FAQ Page

Frequently Asked Questions

Are waste-to-energy facilities safe for the environment?

How do waste-to-energy facilities affect greenhouse gases?

Is waste-to-energy a renewable energy source?

Is the burning of garbage in a waste-to-energy plant dangerous for those who live nearby?

Is it true that waste-to-energy is a significant source of both air emissions and toxic wastes containing dioxin, mercury, lead and other harmful substances?

Is the ash from waste-to-energy plants safe?

Does burning trash in a waste-to-energy facility compete with recycling?

Are waste-to-energy facilities safe for their employees?

Do waste-to-energy facilities put people to work?

Are there more resources available to learn about waste-to-energy and its benefits?

  

Question: Are waste-to-energy facilities safe for the environment?
Answer: Yes.
  Waste-to-energy facilities produce electricity with “less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. America’s waste-to-energy facilities today meet some of the most stringent environmental standards in the world and employ the most advanced emissions control equipment available including scrubbers to control acid gas, fabric filters to control particulate, selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) to control nitrogen oxides, and carbon injection to control mercury and organic emissions.

Click here to learn more about the emissions of waste-to-energy.

For more information on the environment, click here.


Question:  How do waste-to-energy facilities affect greenhouse gases?
Answer: Waste-to-enery reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  Life cycle studies have shown that waste-to-energy reduces one ton of carbon dioxide equivalents for every one ton of trash it processes. 

Click here to learn how.

 

Question: Is waste-to-energy a renewable energy source?
Answer: Yes.  Waste-to-energy is renewable because its fuel source---garbage---is sustainable and non-depletable. According to the U.S. EPA, waste-to-energy is a “clean, reliable, renewable source of energy.” In addition, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus bill), the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Federal Power Act, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s regulations, twenty-four states and the District of Columbia all recognize waste-to-energy power as renewable.

Click here to learn more about waste-to-energy as a renewable energy source.

 

Question: Is the burning of garbage in a waste-to-energy plant dangerous for those who live nearby?
Answer:  No.  Modern waste-to-energy facilities are subject to comprehensive health risk assessments that repeatedly show that waste-to-energy is safe and effective. The National Research Council wrote in its study that today’s waste-to-energy facilities are designed and operated to produce nearly complete combustion of waste and emit low amounts of pollutants. Waste-to-energy destroys pathogens, organics, and other disease-bearing material in trash. Trash coming into a waste-to-energy facility is handled in enclosed tipping halls that are maintained under negative pressure to pull air directly into the boilers and destroy any odors.

Click here to learn more about how a waste-to-energy facility works.

 

Question: Is it true that waste-to-energy is a significant source of both air emissions and toxic wastes containing dioxin, mercury, lead and other harmful substances?
Answer: No, modern waste-to-energy facilities meet or exceed EPA’s Maxiumum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards. America’s waste-to-energy facilities spent $1 billion to retrofit pollution control equipment to achieve the strictest federal standards. “The performance of the MACT retrofits has been outstanding,” according to the U.S. EPA. “Upgrading of the emissions control system of large combustors to exceed the requirements of the Clean Air Act Section 129 standards is an impressive accomplishment.”

Click here to learn more about the emissions of waste-to-energy.

Click here to learn more specifically about dioxins.

 


Question: Is the ash from waste-to-energy plants safe?
Answer: Yes, waste-to-energy ash is safe. Ash residue from waste-to-energy facilities is tested in accordance with strict state and federal leaching tests and is consistently shown to be safe for land disposal and reuse. Waste-to-energy reduces the volume of trash by about 90%, resulting in a 90% decrease in the amount of land required for garbage disposal. Ash also exhibits concrete-like properties causing it to harden once it is placed and compacted in a landfill, reducing the potential for rainwater to leach contaminants from ash landfills into the ground.

Click here to learn more about the ash residue from waste-to-energy.

 

Question: Does burning trash in a waste-to-energy facility compete with recycling?
Answer: No, waste-to-energy does not compete with recycling. In fact, communities with waste-to-energy facilities have an average recycling rate higher than the national average. Waste-to-energy plants annually recover for recycling more than 700,000 tons of ferrous metals on-site.

Click here to learn more about the compatibility of waste-to-energy and recycling.

 

Question: Are waste-to-energy facilities safe for their employees?
Answer:  Yes.  Waste-to-enegy facilities place the highest priority on worker safety.  The work of the Energy Recovery Council and its members in cooperative programs with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a testament to the focus this industry places promoting workplace health and safety.

To learn about more about Waste-to-Energy Health and Safety, click here.

To see a list of facilities that have earned distinction through OSHA's cooperative programs, click here.

To learn about the ERC-OSHA Alliance, click here.

 

Question: Do waste-to-energy facilities put people to work?
Answer:  Absolutely.  Nationwide, the waste-to-energy sector employs approximately 7,000 Americans.  Moreover, the 86 plants throughout the United States have allowed municipalities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of waste sent to landfills, while also benefiting the communities financially.  The Solid Waste Association of North America has published on the examples of economic success achieved by communities.

 

Question: Are there more resources available to learn about waste-to-energy and its benefits?
Answer: 
Of course!  Please click here to see a complete list of resources on this site.