Factors influencing decision makers to evaluate resource recovery and eco-industrial development as a solution for waste management, as well as efficient energy generation and materials recycling, include:
- rising energy costs and over-dependency on fossil fuels;
- limited land resources;
- an awareness of the harmful impacts of land disposal of waste and sludge, resulting in an increase in regulations and restrictions;
- the rising costs associated with landfills;
- public pressure to increase recycling rates;
- international "emissions trading" aimed at promoting sustainable industrial development, which focuses on renewable energy and encourages solid waste management practices that do not depend on landfilling;
- taxes and fines levied by governments to encourage waste producers to divert material from landfills and make recycling and alternative management strategies more attractive;
- the EU Landfill Directive, which essentially requires the phase-out of landfills for organics and other carbon containing materials by 2016, will impose severe penalties for non-compliance;
- the Kyoto Protocol, with legally binding emissions targets to reverse the upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions and severe penalties for non-compliance scheduled for 2008. Significant cuts in the three most important gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (NOx) can be achieved by eliminating landfills as the primary disposal point for solid waste and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources including solid waste; and
- the EU Incineration Directive which encourages the combustion of processed waste and established strict, but fair, limits on air emissions.
Facts such as those reported in the Energy Watch Annual Report 2004-5 highlight the worldwide need for alternative sources of energy and raw materials to support local manufacturing and construction. Resource recovery technology can be part of the sustainable solution.
An "Independent Review of Energy Answers Resource Recovery Technology and its Potential Application in Europe" was conducted by Juniper Consultancy Services Limited, Gloucestershire, England, to assess Energy Answers’ capabilities against European regulatory norms, current practices in Europe and the competitive performance of typical state-of-the-art facilities in Europe.
• UK companies making construction products have seen their energy bills rise by such an amount that they are paying 40% more for their energy than their competitors in France and Germany and the price of cement has gone up 15%.
• The glass manufacturing industry, which directly employs 7000 people in the UK, has seen its gas bills increase by an average of 55%, putting a 20% energy cost premium on the UK glass industry compared to its European competitors.