UK to use Israeli waste-disposal technology

EER has developed a unique plasma-gasification-melting technology that reduces waste safely in an environmentally friendly way.

waste plant 88 224 (photo credit: EER Web site)
waste plant 88 224
(photo credit: EER Web site)
Environmental Energy Resources Ltd. (EER) signed an agreement last week with British waste-disposal company Gowing & Pursey to develop a facility to handle 30,000 tons of waste a year. EER has developed a unique plasma-gasification-melting technology that reduces waste safely in an environmentally friendly way to recyclable gas and basic materials suitable for construction. The facility is expected to cost £12 million. Gowing & Pursey has committed to send waste to it for 20 years. EER hopes to enter the UK market in a big way if this pilot project proves itself, EER president Moshe Stern told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. "This is a breakthrough [into the market], a first pilot-plant in England," he said. "We start with one to show the authorities how our technology works; if it succeeds, we'll have a lot [more]." Stern said EER's technology was revolutionary. "There are several ways to treat waste," he said. "The first is landfill. But there you lose the land [and] the waste, and it pollutes ground water. "The second is incineration. But that leaves over fly ash and bottom ash in huge quantities. Bottom ash is incinerated again and can eventually be used for construction. "Our process is a chemical one - not burning. The waste is reduced to 4 percent of its mass, which can [then] become construction building blocks. Ninety-six percent turns into gas, which powers the plant itself." No one else in the world had managed to create a working technology like theirs, which deals with waste as a "one shot deal," Stern said. "There is no bottom ash and no fly ash." EER's core technology was developed by Russian and Israeli scientists, the former from the Kurchatov Institute. There is a demonstration facility near Ilbin in northern Israel and another facility in Russia. Gowing & Pursey became interested in the technology, Stern said, because environmental regulations and fines are very strict in England. Fines for using a landfill have become very high, he said, so companies have been looking for alternatives. The lack of such regulation, on top of subsidies by the Israeli government, makes EER's technology not economically attractive in Israel, Stern said. "Without regulation it won't work here," he said. "The price [for landfills] is subsidized in Israel to NIS 100-NIS 120 per ton. In England, the price is £120 per ton, or six times as much. In Germany, it is €200, and in the US it is $250. "If the government did a correct assessment of cost of land, pollution and all the factors, then they would come to a real price." The Environmental Protection Ministry was aware of EER and supportive, Stern said, but added there was not yet enough governmental interest to make it worthwhile in Israel. In addition to municipal waste, EER also treats medical and radioactive waste. Two years ago, the company won an international contract to dispose of waste from Chernobyl. EER has begun the process of getting the US Environmental Protection Agency to approve its technology so it can sign a contract with the Texas Medical Center, Texas's largest medical facility. According to Stern, if the technology is approved, they would get a long-term contract to deal with the large amounts of medical waste the center produces. EER is an Israel-registered company controlled by the Shrem Fudim Group. Its current market value is NIS 150m.