Waste to Energy
Waste-to-energy Taking Care of Garbage Michelle Rowland Buena Vista University We all have to share this world with its limited resources. We must take advantage of all resources we have, regardless if they came from the earth, are man made, or are waste products. The average person in America throws away 3. 7 pounds of garbage every day (Resource Recovery Public Works, 2009). It is no surprise that this leads to landfills that are filling faster than we ever thought due to more people and the increasing throwaway economy. We are facing geological limits for landfills in many areas.
Waste-to-energy is a productive method of relieving stresses on natural and man made resources. Waste-to-energy plants turn problems into energy solutions by reducing the amount of garbage and using the energy from the trash as a resource for energy. Running out of landfills Many areas are running out of landfills and the space to develop any landfill. For instance, New York was one of the first major cities to run out of landfill space. The landfill for the New York area was closed in March 2001, leaving New York to haul garbage to landfill sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
New York’s arbage alone accounts for over 12,000 tons going to other landfills daily. In addition, Toronto, Canada’s largest city closed its last landfill on December 31, 2002. Toronto is hauling their garbage to Michigan. The landfills of Athens, Greece reached capacity and closed at the end of 2006. The garbage of Athens is sitting in their streets as communities in Greece have been unwilling to take the Athens garbage. Athens is facing a garbage crisis. China is facing similar challenges. Some areas of China are letting the garbage sit on unoccupied areas where the landfills have closed (Brown, 2008).
The increase of garbage in the streets will have damaging affects on the health and livelihoods of the citizens of the area. Garbage is garbage whether it’s in our own backyard or across the world. Consequently, reducing the amount of trash is beneficial for everyone and using waste-to-energy facilities will help landfills last longer. Garbage gas energy One method of using landfills as a resource for energy is to utilize the methane that is produced in landfills. We don’t have a shortage of landfills or their gases; it makes sense to use the products that they produce. The methane can generate electricity in power plants.
Brown (2008) stated that Atlanta, Georgia has invested in capturing methane and building a pipeline to a carpet factory, where they use the methane to supplement their energy source. The landfill and the factory both reduce greenhouse gases being a win-win for both of them. Jackson (2009) reported the landfill in Gaston County North Carolina and the countys public works departments the methane into electricity. The landfill has begun collecting the gases and will reduce the amount of methane that is flared out Oackson, 2009). By reducing the amount of methane being flared out they reduce the amount escaping into the tmosphere.
The methane continues to be produced on a daily basis long after the cell reaches its capacity. Consequently, using methane energy is a clear advantage for the use of the harmful gas and should be utilized in as many landfills as possible. One disadvantage with methane energy is that does not reduce the amount of garbage going to landfills. This still causes landfills to become filled to capacity and discontinue the ability to accept garbage. The landfill would continue producing the methane for years, but not be able to provide the garbage service.
Obviously other fforts to reduce the amount of garbage taken to landfills are required. Waste-to- energy Who would have ever thought garbage could be a miracle energy source? Yet today, garbage is a fuel that is renewable. Garbage is a source of energy that reduces the buildup of greenhouse gases. Garbage is being used at 89 plants in the United States and over 700 others throughout the world (Michaels, 2008). Let’s take a closer look at this miracle fuel. Waste-to-energy is a process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of garbage.
The process has been endorsed by leading environmental scientists. The waste-to-energy facilities of the United States are required to meet the most stringent environmental standards in the world. The facilities are equipped with advanced emissions control equipment available. The US EPA concluded that the plants have dramatic decreases in air emissions, and produce electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity. America’s Own Energy Source revealed the EPA has estimated that waste-to-energy avoids the release of 33 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly (America’s Own Energy Source).
The technology to burn garbage with ower emissions than conventional fuels burned in most power plants is readily available today. The new waste-to-energy plants are reducing greenhouse gas emissions in three ways. One way is by producing electricity that would have been generated by a conventional power plant. Another way they reduce greenhouse gas is by disposing of solid waste that would have gone to a landfill, decomposed, and then generated methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Waste-to-energy plants also recover metals for recycling, another factor at reducing the amount of garbage in addition to recycling resources.
Waste Management was chosen as a founding member of the U. S. pilot program to promote the trading of greenhouse gas emission credits. These credits are earned by companies who limit or eliminate harmful carbon dioxide emissions. By Waste Management’s donation of carbon credits to the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, it was the first Olympics in modern history to have zero impact on the environment (Waste to Energy, 2009). However, this information is misleading as the Olympics did have carbon dioxide emissions.