• Open Access

The biofuel potential of municipal solid waste


Hugh T. W. Tan, tel. +65 65162717, fax +65 67792486, e-mail: hughtan@nus.edu.sg


The world in the 21st century is facing a dual crisis of increasing waste and global climate change. Substituting fossil fuels with waste biomass-derived cellulosic ethanol is a promising strategy to simultaneously meet part of our energy needs, mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and manage municipal solid waste (MSW). However, the global potential of MSW as an energy source is as yet unquantified. Here, we report increasing trends of MSW generation, and waste biomass-derived cellulosic ethanol potentials in relation to socio-economic development across 173 countries, and show that globally, up to 82.9 billion litres of waste paper-derived cellulosic ethanol can be produced worldwide, replacing 5.36% of gasoline consumption, with accompanying GHG emissions savings of between 29.2% and 86.1%.