Buriram: The Economics of Refuse Derived Fuel Production

Refuse derived fuel is produced from combustible components of municipal solid waste, such as nonrecyclable plastics. Photo credit: ADB.
Refuse derived fuel is produced from combustible components of municipal solid waste, such as nonrecyclable plastics. Photo credit: ADB.

A town in northeastern Thailand studies the viability of converting waste to energy to improve waste disposal.


Asian cities, such as Buriram municipality in northeastern Thailand, face the immense challenge of finding cost-effective methods for diverting solid waste from landfill sites in the interest of long-term public and environmental health.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided technical assistance on mainstreaming solid waste management to Buriram and four other cities in Asia. Key assistance was a review and upgrade of municipal 10-year plans for solid waste management plus one tailored project per city. Issues covered were waste avoidance, minimization, and recycling; waste haulage and disposal; and information, education, and communication campaigns.

At the request of Buriram’s municipal officers, the project team conducted a pre-feasibility study on whether refuse derived fuels or RDF could provide a possible method for diverting waste from landfill. This is a process in which waste is separated and prepared to “RDF 2” quality specification, then transported and sold to modern cement kiln owners that buy it as a coal substitute for the heating process.

Project information

Project snapshot

  • April 2015: Project start
  • March 2017: Project end
  • US$ 1.4 million: Total cost of technical assistance over 2 years
  • Financing
  • Others
    • Government of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department (PCD), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Business, and Buriram Municipality: Stakeholders

Continue reading

Meet the experts

  • Lyndsay Chapple
    Environmental engineering consultant

    Lyndsay Chapple has worked in solid waste management for more than 3 decades. His expertise covers all aspects of solid waste management, ranging from environmental assessments to detailed design of facilities. His passion is developing site-specific solutions that are pragmatic and sustainable.

    Follow Lyndsay Chapple on

  • Andrew McIntyre
    Senior Urban Development Specialist, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank

    Andrew McIntyre leads ADB’s Future Cities Program, operationalizing a One ADB approach to better engage with Asian cities over  the long term, by facilitating cross-sectoral knowledge and financing partners, broadening project pipelines and ensuring integrated results. Andrew's career spans 32 years, 60 projects and in 35 ADB developing member countries.

    Follow Andrew McIntyre on

   Thailand, Energy, Environment, Urban development
   Last updated: March 2017



The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

Was this article useful?


Log in or register to post comments.