WtE or EfW?


Covanta Energy Corp. and Green Island Energy are developing an advanced Energy-from-Waste facility on Vancouver Island to serve the Province of British Columbia’s waste disposal challenges.

Is there really any difference between "waste to energy" and "energy from waste" and, if not, then why are we using different terms for it?

What? Did you notice that?

I swear that not that long ago, the industry referred to creating energy by using waste material as "waste-to-energy." This makes sense not only because the acronym takes you through the process from beginning to end but also because it is an established term. It's not that hard to say, "W-t-E."

Recently, I have seen "EfW" finding its way into print.

Here are my questions:

  • "Energy from Waste": Does this hold as much power for you? A colleague says it does for him; he thinks it’s a positive.
  • Is this another marketing campaign trying to convince us that the emphasis is not on the waste? Energy and waste are equally important on this one so I'm not sure how I would determine which should be first.
  • Is EfW more of a European term? This would make more sense to me grammatically.

Another problem I see with EfW is that it's already in use as efw:

  • As a file extension,
  • Electric field and wave,
  • Estimated fetal weight (really), and
  • Environment Fish & Wildlife (and we never want to confuse those, do we?).

Just for fun, I Googled both terms and got more than 31 million results for WtE. For EfW, the tally was less – about 782,000 — but most of these referred back to WtE. I guess you get the point. Care to weigh in?

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Sep 01, 2009