A pioneer in environmental issues
At Westenergy, waste quality is monitored by comprehensive spot checks and the emission levels from the incineration process are measured accurately. As the emissions are directly influenced by what goes onto the grate, the monitoring system also tells us a lot about our fuel. We always want our operations to be in line with the decisions and goals that have been made. Our main goal is to fulfil the conditions laid out in our environmental permit.
Waste Quality Inspector Laura Valtari and Environmental Manager Substitute Juha Ripatti know very well what kind of waste the Western Finland municipalities are sending for energy production. Laura makes spot checks on waste deliveries to Westenergy to see if there are any non-combustible materials or something that could damage the incineration plant’s machinery. The goal is to check 100 deliveries per year.
-When I check a load, first I visually check what the load looks like. Sometimes I can see directly that the quality of the waste is good. In such cases, I can then go through a quarter of the waste load with a pitchfork, instead of checking half the load. Then I sort the waste for weighing. Lifting waste is quite heavy physical work. After checking, I make the reports and calculations with pictures of the loads attached. We follow the data monthly and annually, says Laura.
On a Finnish scale, Westenergy’s waste quality control methods are almost at a scientific level. Valuable information is obtained from inspections and this information can be used to improve the quality of deliveries. Since waste is Westenergy’s fuel, the quality of the deliveries will affect the combustion emissions. Better waste quality produces lower emission levels with smaller quantities of purification chemicals.
Juha’s task is to ensure that the plant’s operations follow environmental legislation and the company’s own environmental objectives. He monitors the operations and measurements included in the plant’s environmental system and ensures that the plant operates in accordance with environmental permits. Juha also provides information on new laws and regulations throughout the organisation.
Declining waste quality
Raw combustion gases from the boiler provide a lot of important information on the quality of the waste directly affecting the plant’s operation. Whenever Laura and Juha detect high emission levels before the flue gas cleaning system, for example, or find objects that do not belong to the waste, they point out the issue to the waste suppliers. Westenergy also works closely with authorities to improve waste quality. In 2017, eight deliveries were returned to suppliers which covered a significant part of the interference reports issued to the authorities.
– There was a lot of low-quality waste last year, especially in loads that came from outside our actual operating area. Although ordinary households seem to still have a reasonably good sort of waste, the worsening of the waste quality and the subsequent pressure on the rise of emission levels is unfortunately a clear trend, even though our emission levels are still clearly below the limit values, Juha explains.