Ethiopia‘s capital Addis Ababa has had one landfill for around 50 years: the Koshe dump site. Serving over three million people, it’s about as large as 36 football pitches, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). A waste-to-energy plant, a first for Africa, could transform the site, harvesting energy from 1,400 tons of trash every day.

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Waste incineration is a popular energy source in Europe; there are 126 plants in France, 121 in Germany, and 40 in Italy, according to UNEP. But no plants have been constructed in Africa — until now. The Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project is designed to supply Ethiopia’s capital with around 30 percent of household power needs. To meet European standards, UNEP said Reppie “adopts modern back-end flue gas treatment technology to drastically reduce the release of heavy metals and dioxins produced from the burning.”

Related: Dubai announces plans for world’s biggest waste-to-energy facility

A BBC video posted this month said the waste-to-energy plant will generate three million bricks from waste ash, and 30 million liters of water will be recovered from the garbage. They said the plant will avert the release of 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. Hundreds of jobs will also be generated, including for people who depended on scavenging at the dump.

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For cities lacking a large amount of land, UNEP described waste-to-energy incineration as a quadruple win: “it saves precious space, generates electricity, prevents the release of toxic chemicals into groundwater, and reduces the release of methane — a potent greenhouse gas generated in landfills — into the atmosphere.”

The government of Ethiopia partnered with renewable energy and waste management company Cambridge Industries, state-owned engineering company China National Electric Engineering, and Danish engineering firm Ramboll to build the plant. UNEP said last November it was set to start operating in January, though it appears they’re not all the way there yet; that said, the BBC video reported the plant is connected to the national power grid.

+ Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project

+ United Nations Environment Program

Via the BBC

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