Waste‐to‐wealth: The economic reasons for replacing waste‐toenergy with the circular economy of municipal solid waste

  • Mario Pagliaro Istituto per lo Studio dei Materiali Nanostrutturati, CNR, Italy


Sharing the same raw material, recycling and composting are in direct conflict with incineration of
municipal solid waste in combined health and power plants. Indeed, waste‐to‐energy plants in regions
with high recycling rates import urban waste from other countries to use otherwise unused capacity and
raise revenues. Using the case of Italy’s economically most developed region, I discuss the economic
viability of municipal solid waste incineration to produce electricity and heat in the context of the
increasing role of electricity production from renewable energy sources as well as of the emerging
circular bioeconomy. Four lessons and three guidelines aimed at local authorities and policy makers
emerge from the present study.

Original Papers