Converting Trash Into Electricity: US Needs To Step It Up

Converting Trash Into Electricity: US Needs To Step It Up

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Cambria Bold
Apr 13, 2010

New energy plants across Denmark are converting trash into heat and electricity and enabling the country to reduce its energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as its reliance on oil and gas and its use of landfills. Garbage is now seen as a clean alternative fuel rather than a problem. So why isn't the US doing this, too?

Well they are, but just not anywhere near to the extent that Denmark and other European countries are. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration.

The New York Times writes:

By contrast, no new waste-to-energy plants are being planned or built in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency says — even though the federal government and 24 states now classify waste that is burned this way for energy as a renewable fuel, in many cases eligible for subsidies. There are only 87 trash-burning power plants in the United States, a country of more than 300 million people, and almost all were built at least 15 years ago. Instead, distant landfills remain the end point for most of the nation's trash. New York City alone sends 10,500 tons of residential waste each day to landfills in places like Ohio and South Carolina.

Why are Americans so reluctant? According to Matt Hale, director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, said it's because we have an abundance of cheap landfills in a large country, and we're dealing with opposition from state officials who fear the plants could undercut recycling programs and invoke a "negative public perception."

Yet some ardent environmentalists oppose it, too, stating that investing in garbage as a green resource is "perverse" when you should really be promoting zero waste.

Really interesting article, so definitely check it out here. Then tell us what you think about it!

(Image: Usitall)

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