A critical review: emerging bioeconomy and waste-to-energy technologies for sustainable municipal solid waste management

To Hung Tsui, Jonathan W.C. Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Municipal solid waste (MSW) management has emerged as probably the most pressing issue many governments nowadays are facing. Traditionally, Waste-to-Energy(WtE) is mostly associated with incineration, but now, with the emergence of the bioeconomy, it embraces a broader definition comprising any processing technique that can generate electricity/heat or produce a waste-derived fuel. Under the ambit of the circular economy many nations are looking for, additional effort must be made to be sure of acquiring the most updated information and paving a sustainable path for managing MSW in such a frame. In this regard, we have undertaken a critical review of various technologies, with their updated progress, involved in the exploitation of MSW as a renewable resource, along with the critical advantages and limitations on energy and material cycling for sustainable MSW management. Incineration, the most widely used method, is nowadays difficult to further apply due to its dubious reputation and social opposition. Meanwhile, to address the organic fraction of MSW which currently is mostly unrecycled and causes disposal issues, the biological approach presents an attractive option. The new emphasis of bioeconomy leads us to understand how environmental biotechnologies should be better connected/integrated for more sustainable MSW management. This article is concluded with advances of future prospects, which can serve as a timely reminder to encourage competent authorities/researchers to work towards further improvement of the present MSW management system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
JournalWaste Disposal and Sustainable Energy
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Bioeconomy
  • Circular economy
  • Municipal solid waste management
  • Sustainability
  • Waste-to-energy


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