A Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Model for Evaluation of Waste-to-Energy Technologies from Municipal Solid Waste: Combustion or Gasification for Puerto Rico? Open Access
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The island of Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States of America, has a population of 3,725,789 according to the 2010 census, and generates 11,100 tons daily of waste. In the Island, landfilling is the dominant form of waste disposal. Most municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLF) in Puerto Rico are a principal source of land, water, and air pollution. In addition, the scarcity of appropriate land to open new landfill facilities make this type of waste disposal an unsustainable form of waste management for the Island. This study evaluated the current situation of the MSWLFs in Puerto Rico and the geographic limitations of continuing with this type of waste disposal on the Island. As alternatives to this problem, the principal waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies, combustion and gasification, are evaluated as environmentally responsible forms for disposal of non-recycled waste. The evaluation methodology used is based on a multi-criteria decision-making model that uses a subjective rank-order weighting method. Evaluation of WTE technologies is performed by comparing dissimilar indicators in five interest areas: technical, economic, environmental, socio-political, and risk. The methodology is composed of two-components: an expert survey and data analysis. An evaluation of the environmental interest area was performed to assess which of the WTE technologies studied herein, combustion or gasification, is more environmentally responsible. In addition, using the relevant scores in different interest areas, they were evaluated to determine the economic benefits of these WTE technologies as viable waste management alternatives for Puerto Rico.