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Smart recycling of organic solid wastes in an environmentally sustainable society

Fujii, Minoru, Fujita, Tsuyoshi, Chen, Xudong, Ohnishi, Satoshi, Yamaguchi, Naohisa
Resources, conservation, and recycling 2012 v.63 pp. 1-8
carbon, carbon dioxide, cement, cost effectiveness, energy efficiency, fossils, greenhouse gas emissions, industry, municipal solid waste, paper, plastics, power plants, recycling, society, steel, Japan
The organic fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW), such as plastics and paper, is commonly recycled in Japan, but a considerable room for improvement still remains. Energy intensive industries, such as steel, cement, paper, and power plants, have great capacities to accept waste plastics and paper to substitute their fossil resource consumption and to reduce carbon emissions. We propose a “smart recycling system” that utilizes existing industrial facilities that have high energy efficiency, for establishing a cost-effective and robust recycling system. The core of the smart recycling system is the smart recycling center (SRC) that establishes a new recycling pathway connecting spatially diffuse municipal sources to facilities in energy intensive industries. This paper discusses the design and function of an SRC and estimates the CO₂ emissions and costs related to the operation and construction of the SRC. We also evaluated the cost effectiveness of the smart recycling system, taking into account sorted collection, incineration, processes in the SRC, and processes in industrial facilities. We estimated that the system could result in a reduction of approximately 100kg of CO₂ emissions per capita per year without a significant increase in cost.