As a company that is committed to sustainability, we are very interested in the possibilities of waste-to-energy, also called trash-to-energy services.
Waste incineration facilities can help you get rid of your industrial waste while keeping the energy cycle closed and thereby making your operation as sustainable as possible. If you haven't considered waste-to-energy services for your business, now is a perfect time.
What Does a Waste-to-Energy Company Do?
Waste-to-energy is simply the process of generating energy, specifically electricity or heat, by processing waste. It is a type of energy recovery where the energy contained within the waste is released, captured and processed for reuse in another form. A waste-to-energy plant is a facility specifically designed for this type of processing.
The most common type of creating energy by treating residual waste is incineration. Put simply, the waste is burned. Generally, high-temperature incineration of the waste generates heat, which is used to boil water. This creates the steam that powers steam generators which can create electrical energy as well as redirect heat to residential and commercial facilities.
Burning waste can often produce toxic by-products, of course, which is why this process must take place in a licensed waste to energy facility. The facility is where machines are designed to capture the toxic by-products before they escape into the atmosphere, and where many safeguards are in place to make sure the waste is converted safely.
Why Should You Work With a Waste-to-Energy Company?
In our modern society where the effects human manufacturing have had on the environment are all too clear, it is more important than ever that companies dispose of their waste in an ecologically responsible way. By converting your waste to energy, you are keeping that waste out of landfills and recycling waste that might otherwise be discarded. This process is good for your reputation, good for your community, and good for the world at large.
The only challenges you will have to face when it comes to responsibly disposing of your waste is finding the right waste-to-energy company and getting your waste safely and efficiently to their plant. That’s where ERC comes in.
What You Should Know About Waste-to-Energy
You may have heard it called waste-to-energy, energy-from-waste, or energy recovery. Used interchangeably, they all describe the waste management strategy of using non-recyclable materials and converting them into useable heat, electric or fuel through combustion. The waste-to-energy process generates renewable energy and off-sets the need to create energy from fossil sources. It also works to reduce carbon emissions and reduce methane gas from landfills.
Waste Management Hierarchy
It is important to understand the EPA’s waste management hierarchy, the preferable ways of handling industrial and organic waste, and where the energy recovery process falls in the hierarchy. After overall waste reduction, which is the most beneficial option, recycling is the preferred method of controlling waste. However, some materials cannot be recycled and that is where energy recovery steps come into play, to avoid the least desirable outcome, which is disposal into a landfill.
Reduction & Reuse
This is the most environmentally preferred waste management method. This includes the reduction of waste at the production source, reducing packaging, buying materials in bulk, or redesigning products to include fewer raw materials.
Recycling & Composting
We are all familiar with the recycling process, which involves collecting and sorting waste to isolate recyclable materials, which can then be broken down and processed into new raw materials and remanufactured. In a similar process, composting breaks down organic waste materials to produce fertilizer or soil amendment. Thirty-four percent of American’s municipal solid waste is recycled or composted.
This waste management strategy is employed to prevent non-recyclable materials from ending up in landfills. The waste is combusted and used to create new sources of renewable energy. Energy recovery handles 12% of America’s municipal waste.
Treatment & Disposal
Treatment and disposal is the least sustainable outcome of waste management. While various treatment methods work to reduce the volume of waste and toxicity in waste, 54% of municipal waste is deposited into landfills each year.
How Waste-to-Energy Has Changed Over the Years
The combustion used in the waste-to-energy process is often associated with trash incinerators used in past decades. But today’s energy recovery process has advanced and evolved. In the past, the creation of energy was not a priority and trash was only burned to reduce volume.
Energy-from-waste methods continue to reduce the volume of waste, by nearly 90%. (The remaining 10% of waste used in energy recovery is now ash, which is deposited into local landfills.) But today’s processing plants are also creating renewable energy, which can lessen our dependence on coal or oil in the creation of energy. According to Municipal Solid Waste in the US: Facts and Figures, in 2012 the United States combusted about 29 million tons of municipal waste (12% of total waste) for energy recovery. The 86 processing facilities across the country have the capacity to turn that 29 million tons of waste into 2,720 megawatts of power each year.
A few more outstanding statistics from the Energy Recovery Council:
Waste-to-energy plants keep 90,000 tons of waste out of landfills each day
Seventeen billion kilowatts of electricity are produced each year
This can meet the electricity needs of nearly two million homes
It would take 7.8 million tons of coal to produce the same amount of electricity
Also changing is the amount of air pollution created as a result of this waste reduction strategy. After the passing of the Clean Air Act, approximately $1 billion was invested to upgrade air quality control systems and quality control devices at U.S. waste-to-energy facilities. This led to a reduction in emissions to levels far below state and federal standards. The EPA has since concluded that “waste-to-energy generates electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.”
As technology develops further, the energy recovery process can be broadened further to include non-recyclable plastic materials, to create plastics-to-fuel technology. Using much of the same methods, non-recyclable plastics are heated, melted, and vaporized into gas that can be used in the production of fuels for home heating, diesel, or gasoline.
The Fight Against Global Warming
Waste-to-energy is playing a large role in the fight against global warming and overall climate change. As waste in a landfill breaks down, it produces methane gas, one of the more potent greenhouse gases affecting climate change. By finding alternative uses for waste, we can decrease the level of methane gases produced.
The energy recovery process creates carbon dioxide emissions (another greenhouse gas), however, when we compare it to the amount of CO2 released when creating the same amount of energy using coal or oil, energy recovery has a clear advantage. Add to that the amount methane gas avoided by not disposing the waste in a landfill, and you’ll see that the process avoids nearly one ton of greenhouse gas for every one ton of waste handled.
We are committed to providing turn-key, environmentally sound waste management solutions using the latest technologies to help our customers meet their sustainability goals.
ERC for Waste Removal for Waste-to-Energy Services
ERC, the Mid-Atlantic region experts in waste processing, recycling, and disposal, is proud to work with waste-to-energy partners in order to promote sustainability in the industry. We can help you find the right waste-to-energy plant near you and transport your waste to that facility.
Once the waste is in our hands, you can be confident it will be transported safely. You’re able to get rid of your waste while enjoying the fact that you are being environmentally responsible, a fact that you can share with your partners and consumers.
Contact ERC for More Information on Waste-to-Energy Incineration Services Now
For more information on waste-to-energy services for your business, contact ERC at 1-833-342-5372 or drop us a line electronically today.
ERC provides waste-to-energy services for a number of industries in an effort to prevent waste disposal in local landfills. If you have any additional questions or concerns about this energy recovery process, please contact us!