Sustainable Development Goals

Organizations Involved:
City of Hamburg, GHH, Alstom, BBP
Design & Engineering, Feasibility Study, Due Diligence Services, Component Supply

The Challenge:

The City of Hamburg, Germany passed a resolution to cease depending on landfills for the disposal of municipal solid waste ("MSW") in 1993. The objective of the WTE facility was to not only transform waste into energy but also to treat the residues of incineration and flue gas treatment for reuse in different applications.

The Solution:

The Muellverwertung Rugenberger Damm ("MVR") waste treatment facility in Hamburg, Germany has set the standard in the WTE field. MVR has been in full-time, full-scale commercial operation since 1999, achieving more than 90% availability each year, processing as-received, post-recycled, curb side-collected solid waste and recovering electricity, industrial steam, district heating hot water, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, commercial-grade hydrochloric acid and gypsum, construction aggregate and sub-base material, and industrial salts for the reclamation of retired underground mines. Since the MVR facility represents the world's most environmentally sustainable commercially proven solid waste solution, it is not surprising that it serves as the model facility for the European Union and enjoys the exclusive support of the German Green Party as the best available technology for the treatment of solid waste to achieve the Green Party's "2020 Concept" to avoid landfilling of all degradable solid wastes from human activities.

Besides electricity, steam, and hot water for district heating, other marketable commodity products are produced at the MVR facility, making this plant achieve a recycling rate of 98-100%. Following combustion, the remaining material left on the forward feeding grates consists of non-combustible components of the waste and inert materials produced during combustion. This is known as slag or bottom ash. The bottom ash is washed with additional water to eliminate about 50% of readily soluble salts. Iron scraps and non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper, and brass are separated and reused in steel and metal production. The bottom ash is then screened, crushed, and freed from unburned materials until it is a tested and approved construction material comparable to a mixture made from processed demolition waste. All unusable components of the bottom ash are returned to the waste bunker and reprocessed through the combustion process.

The Outcome:

Since its start-up in 1999, the MVR facility has successfully and continuously processed MSW delivered by the City of Hamburg and three adjacent counties in Lower Saxony south of Hamburg in an efficient, economical, and environmentally responsible manner. The energy conversion from MVR is similar to the process in a normal co-generation power station in which coal, oil, or gas is used instead of waste for combined heat and power generation. The MVR facility is considered a cogeneration plant as it sells both steam and electricity.

The plant construction of the MVR naturally affected the flora and fauna of the site. Greening measures were applied to the site and on the roofs of MVR, with grassy areas with wildflowers, shrubs, and trees planted. There is a single large Habitat of over 7,000 square meters on the roof of MVR. As ecological compensation measures, an area of 13 hectares of industrial land was naturally converted into Höfner Moor - about 4 km south of the plant.

The success of the MVR plant is a testament to the reliability, economic feasibility, and environmentally responsible nature of the Advanced Thermal Recycling technology for high energy production and material recovery. 

Muellverwertung Rugenberger Damm ("MVR") Waste Treatment Facility, including a link to the latest Environmental Statement, dated 2011. This report is prepared annually by MVR management and verified by an independent, certified environmental auditor in accordance with the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. 

This project addresses the SDGs by taking into account the following goals and associated targets. It contributes to ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns by coming up with a sustainable waste treatment framework (Goal 12). Through a safe and inclusive waste disposal system, the SDG strives to protect ecosystems and prevent biodiversity loss (Goal 15).