Huge amounts of waste are being generated, and even though the incineration process reduces the mass and volume of waste to a large extent, massive amounts of residues still remain. On average, out of 1.3 billion tons of municipal solid wastes generated per year, around 130 and 2.1 million tons are incinerated in the world and in Belgium, respectively. Around 400 kT of bottom ash residues are generated in Flanders, out of which only 102 kT are utilized here, and the rest is exported or landfilled due to non-conformity to environmental regulations. Landfilling makes the valuable resources in the residues unavailable and results in more primary raw materials being used, increasing mining and related hazards. Identifying and employing the right pre-treatment technique for the highest value application is the key to attaining a circular economy. We reviewed the present pre-treatment and utilization scenarios in Belgium, and the advancements in research around the world for realization of maximum utilization are reported in this paper. Uses of the material in the cement industry as a binder and cement raw meal replacement are identified as possible effective utilization options for large quantities of bottom ash. Pre-treatment techniques that could facilitate this use are also discussed. With all the research evidence available, there is now a need for combined efforts from incineration and the cement industry for technical and economic optimization of the process flow.
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