Energy-from-Waste & Recycling
Energy-from-Waste Facilities Support Community Recycling Efforts
Recycling efforts and Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities do not compete with each other. On the contrary, recycling efforts typically benefit from having an EfW facility in the community. Most U.S. communities with EfW (also known as waste-to-energy or WTE) facilities have a higher recycling rate than the national average1. In most instances, communities that have a Covanta Energy owned and/or operated EfW facility have taken the time to focus on developing an integrated waste management program that includes reducing, reusing, recycling followed by Covanta recovering energy from the waste leftover. Furthermore, our Energy-from-Waste facilities recycle 400,000 tons of metal a year that are typically left in the waste stream after normal curbside recycling efforts.
One misconception about Energy-from-Waste facilities is that they require more waste than what is available after recycling to operate efficiently. That is not true. After local recycling efforts more than 250 million tons of waste is still sent to landfills each year in the U.S. Even if local recycling rates increased to those achieved in places like Europe, there would still be residual waste left over. The two choices for waste disposal are to landfill the waste, which emits harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere such as methane, or use it to create renewable energy at an EfW facility.
Many European countries have chosen to create energy from the residual waste that remains after recycling. We believe that is the best choice. Burying waste that can be used as a resource doesn’t make sense from energy, environmental and economic standpoints.
REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. RECOVER ENERGY-FROM-WASTE.
In an examination of recycling rates of more than 500 communities in twenty-two states which rely on waste-to-energy for their waste disposal, it is demonstrated that these communities recycle at a rate higher than the national average.1”
We are going even further to promote recycling. We are taking a proactive role in working to reduce recyclables from the waste stream. We have joined the call for a national bottle bill in the U.S. to increase bottle recycling and are working with local municipalities to reduce toxins in the waste stream such as mercury, pharmaceuticals and electronics. These steps are part of our commitment to generate clean, renewable energy with the least environmental impact possible.
EfW and Recycling at Work
Covanta Marion in Brooks, Oregon processes 550 tons per day of solid waste, generating up to 13.1 megawatts of renewable energy for Marion County. The county’s world-class recycling efforts aren’t impeded by having an Energy-from-Waste facility in the community. In fact, revenue generated from host and tipping fees for the facility are used to finance the county’s world-class recycling and waste management programs.
Learn more about Marion County’s recycling programs – Click Here
Check out a video produced by the “Green Economy” about Marion Count’s waste stream
Onondaga County in New York
Covanta Onondaga is located in Jamesville, NY within Onondaga County. The American Forest and Paper Association recognized the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCCRA) as the winner of the 2011 Community Recycling Award. This national recognition is a testament to the county’s commitment to recycling. In 2010, the county recycled 165,000 tons of paper and cardboard (including office and mixed paper, newspaper, magazines, corrugated cardboard, food boxes, paper bags and books). The association credited OCRRA for curbside pick-ups, drop-off locations as well as shredding and recycling events. Covanta Onondaga supports OCRRA with its other recycling initiatives by teaming up to provide incentives to remove mercury from the waste stream. Covanta provides a gift card and a digital thermometer to residents that turn in mercury devices (thermometers and thermostats) for proper disposal and recycling.
Click here to learn more about OCCRA’s recycling program.
Covanta Tulsa Recognized for Recycling Efforts
In 2010, Covanta Tulsa (OK) was recognized with a certificate of gratitude from Metropolitan Environmental Trust, a local recycling organization, for its commitment to recycling.
1 From the research study entitled, “Recycling and Waste-to-Energy: Are They Compatible? 2009 Update” conducted by Governmental Advisory Associates. The study was partially sponsored by The Energy Recovery Council of which Covanta Energy is a member.