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A mini-review of waste-to-energy consideration in Renewable Energy and Waste Management Policies in South Africa.

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South Africa is increasingly pursuing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to address the gap between energy demand and supply. As this gap continues to expand, there is potential to include additional renewable resources such as waste, which is an underexploited resource. Waste-to-energy (WtE) schemes offer an opportunity to address energy related and waste management challenges, amongst others. Since South African local municipalities are mandated to collect and dispose of waste, this paper is a mini-review which aims to explore (1) the extent to which WtE schemes are currently included in various policies and (2) factors hindering local municipalities from adopting these schemes as an option to enhance current waste management options and address energy demand. A desktop study and review of literature regarding energy demand and supply, existing WtE schemes, and waste management practices in South Africa. This paper found that, while policies have acknowledged the need to pursue sustainable methods of energy generation, suitable WtE schemes for local municipalities and their impact on GHG emissions, only 10% of local municipalities in South Africa use WtE schemes. Factors such as capital investment, suitable technology, limited political will and institutional arrangements impede adoption. The paper recommends that more local municipalities begin exploring WtE scheme implementation by commissioning feasibility and viability studies on WtE schemes; expand research and development primarily at government level; include WtE schemes in regulatory frameworks such as the Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Waste Management Plans; identify, create and improve public-private-partnerships and concessions.
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