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Refuse Derived Fuel Usage in Cement Kilns: Bangladesh Scenario

See all Toxic-Free SDG activities here.

Solid waste management is the collection of waste generated by every human being and its disposal in an environmentally friendly way. Mainly solid waste consists of household, industrial, agricultural, e-waste etc. But improper management of waste can create serious health hazards and environmental pollution. Such diseases as malaria and other respiratory syndromes are also a result of improper waste management. Proper waste management can resolve several issues related to converting waste into energy in developing and developed countries that are using Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF). Refuse-Derived Fuel is an alternative fuel that is obtained from municipal solid waste. It is claimed to be a renewable form of energy and particularly the cement industry and/or other industries are using RDF to replace coal, gas or electricity. But the harmful effects of using RDF are not known to them.

Demand for RDF in the world is increasing at present. There are several types of RDF: Solid Recovered Fuel (SFR), Process Engineered Fuels (PEF), Tyre Derived Fuels (TDF), and Waste Derived Fuels (WDF). The purchase cost is lower than traditional fuels like coal, gas, oil, fossil fuel and others. 

Bangladesh is a small South Asian country located to the East of India. The waste products like waste parings and scraps of rubber, tyres, powders, granules, etc., are exported from Bangladesh. Bangladesh export most of its waste products to China, India, Indonesia etc. 

In Bangladesh, the use of RDF in the cement industry is not popular yet. They usually use gas, oil, fossil fuel or coal as the main source of fuel. They are also using electricity in their kilns. Already a gazette has been published by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for Solid Waste Management in Bangladesh (December, 2021), where the criteria for using RDF are described [11]. To spread the introduction of producing and using RDF among the cement industries, boilers or other sectors, a megaproject named Waste to Energy Conversion is now under consideration by the Government of Bangladesh in Keraniganj area of Dhaka City (Bangladesh). 

This study is an exclusive assessment done by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) as part of the IPEN-ESDO partnership with the primary objective to identify the adverse effects of using RDFs in cement kilns in Bangladesh and to review the government policy related to plastic waste, RDFs and fuels for cement kilns.

The questionnaires and face-to-face interviews were conducted by the team with selected cement factory workers and responsible persons. Also, the research team communicated with corporate officials. The study found that the use of RDFs is less known to the  cement producers. All of the cement factories are using traditional fuels such as coal, gas, oil, or fossil fuel.

This report relates to the Sustainable Development goals 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 16.

Special thanks to IPEN's South Asia Regional Coordinator Tripti Arora, the South Asia Regional Hub Toxics Link, and the lead NGO in this report, ESDO, for their important contributions to the development and finalization of the project.

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