Waste-to-Energy: A Sustainable, Smart Solution


Let’s talk trash for a minute. (Or as the pros refer to it in this case, non-hazardous municipal solid waste.) Did you know that each person in the country dumps an average of 4.5 pounds of waste into landfills every single day? Or that more than 250 million tons of trash get tossed into U.S. landfills every year? More than half of our municipal solid waste goes into landfills. That’s enough trash to boggle the mind, and it seems like we could come up with a better idea than burying it in our environment.

We actually have come up with a better idea, but it’s taking a while to catch on: waste-to-energy, also known as energy-from-waste. Waste-to-energy (WTE) plants use non-hazardous waste as fuel to generate power. Essentially, the burning waste heats water into steam that powers a turbine to create power.

How much power are we talking about? Typically, a WTE plant produces between 550 and 750 kilowatt-hours for each ton of waste burned. Just one kilowatt-hour of electricity is enough to watch TV for 10 hours, wash 12 loads of laundry, or cook breakfast for a family of four. And that’s just one kilowatt-hour from one ton of waste. The 86 WTE facilities in the U.S. are able to produce 2,720 megawatts of power per year out of 28 million tons of waste. And the entire process can decrease the surrounding community’s landfill accumulation by up to 90 percent.

Although it may seem odd at first, WTE is considered reliable and renewable energy, like solar or wind energy. But when you think about it, that makes sense. The fuel for WTE facilities is refuse, something that renews daily. The waste burned to create energy is known as biomass, meaning it comes from plants or animals. Think paper, cardboard, yard waste, food, and the like. WTE proponents consider it a fourth R: reuse, reduce, recycle, and recover energy from waste. It makes sense to use what we have in abundance—waste—to generate something we need—electricity. And here’s something else to consider: Some WTE plants accept liquid non-hazardous industrial waste as well as solid waste. And there are also intermediaries that will render liquid waste to a solid for those WTE facilities that only accept solid waste.

At Environmental Remedies, we routinely either ship or arrange to ship waste materials to WTE plants. We value sustainable solutions that protect the environment, preserve our resources, and reduce landfill usage. What about you? If you’d like to find out if you waste material is a good candidate for the fourth R—recover energy–call us at 800-399-2783.

Environmental Remedies recycles more than 97 percent of the waste materials we receive, and we recycle more than 30 million gallons of water each year to pertinent governmental regulations. To learn more about our green initiatives, visit our website at www.envremedies.com.