Waste not, want not

Some of the fossil fuels used for energy production could be replaced by waste.

For a good while now, it has been evident that the world will need to give up of fossil fuels in the foreseeable future. The Nordics have recently released ambitious carbon-neutrality goals, with Sweden leading the pack, as they aim to be one of the world’s first carbon neutral welfare states by 2045. Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas, and a direct product of burning fossil fuels, so such aims are more than relevant in confronting climate change.

Whilst working towards reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we are experiencing another growing problem: the human population is generating more waste than ever. Loading waste into landfills relocates the problem, but does nothing to efficiently solve it. The only sustainable solution is to acknowledge that waste is a resource we need to learn to utilize in energy production.

Don’t let waste go to waste

Using waste as a raw material is extremely resource-efficient. Primarily, it reduces the need to produce and cultivate new raw materials, but it is also important to note, that waste left unused is a significant economic loss. In addition to the raw material itself, several other inputs have gone into producing it in the first place, i.e. in production, transport and consumption, all of which are lost if waste is not repurposed. It simply makes no sense to waste waste.

Low quality waste – high quality renewable fuel

One of the most prominent ways to repurpose waste is to use it as a raw material in fuel production. Whilst using waste plastics as a raw material in fuel production recycling plastics into fuel is under research, different kinds of organic waste fats and residues can already be used as raw material in the production of renewable fuels. The emissions generated by renewable fuels during their lifecycle are significantly lower than those of fossil fuels. Neste MY Renewable Diesel produced from waste and residues can reduce greenhouse gas emissions over 90% compared to fossil fuels.

Neste’s NEXBTL technology allows renewable diesel to be refined flexibly from a wide variety of low-quality raw materials, while the end-products retain their high quality and generate a minimal amount of emissions.

To produce Neste MY Renewable Diesel, Neste uses a variety of reclaimed waste oils and fatssuch as animal and fish fat from food waste, used cooking oil, residues from vegetable oil processing and technical corn oil. Animal and fish fat are both generated as byproducts of the food industry and, along with used cooking oil, are sourced globally.

Where there is will, there is a way

In the future, whether waste will constitute a problem or a resource depends entirely on how we decide to manage it. But if waste could be efficiently incorporated into the circular economy, it has been estimated that it could provide a sustainable resource for our energy requirements. So waste not, want not.

We have embarked on a journey towards a carbon neutral future. However, it takes more than one to reach zero. Together with our partners, Neste will explore new ideas and steer the world towards a better future.