ERC Defends Waste-to-Energy Against Inaccurate Report

A recent report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) took shots at the waste-to-energy industry, but missed the mark when it failed to understand the science behind facilities that generate renewable energy from household trash. An unbiased evaluation would have drawn several conclusions that the report failed to make. First, waste-to-energy is widely used and recognized by federal, state and international agencies as a safe, proven, renewable energy source that meets stringent environmental standards. Second, localities, states, and countries that have the highest reliance on waste-to-energy also generally have the highest recycling rates. Third, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have determined that waste-to-energy is a net reducer of greenhouse gases.

“Waste-to-energy is a sustainable waste management tool and a renewable energy generator with a proven track record worldwide,” said Ted Michaels, President of the Energy Recovery Council, which is the national trade association representing companies and local governments engaged in the waste-to-energy sector. “This report is an illustration of an organization playing fast and loose with data to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. The fact remains that policy makers at all levels of government, domestic and international, have recognized waste-to-energy as an important source of renewable energy that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Michaels added, “Energy is too scarce, waste is too abundant, and jobs are too precious to ignore the benefits of waste-to-energy. The EIP report is intended to obfuscate the issues and does so by drawing inaccurate conclusions. It is disappointing that the EIP’s commitment to intellectual integrity falls short of their self-stated interest in environmental integrity.”

To dowload the ERC statement, please click here.

NAWTEC Call For Papers is Available

The Call For Papers for the 20th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference is out.  NAWTEC 20 will take place April 23-25, 2012 in Portland, ME.  Don't miss this opportunity to reach the largest specialty group of professionals in North America dealing with municipal waste-to-energy, combustion engineering science, and emerging waste conversion & processing technologies. Abstracts are being sought on the following overarching topics: Advancing Waste-to-Energy through Research and Technology, Waste-to-Energy Contracts and Development Initiatives, Waste-to-Energy as Part of Sustainable Waste Management, and Improving Waste-to-Energy Plant Operations. All abstracts must be submitted online by November 7, 2011. The abstract submittal website is currently being developed and will be open soon to accept your submittal. Please visit http://www.nawtec.org for updates on the opening of the website.

Congress Chooses Waste-to-Energy

Capitol Hill will begin sending its trash to local waste-to-energy facilities that will turn trash into electricity, according to an announcement today by the Architect of the Capitol (AoC).  The chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), praised the AoC’s waste-to-energy initiative. “Waste-to-energy facilities, woefully underutilized here in the U.S., are an environmentally efficient, cost-effective means to reduce greenhouse emissions and divert waste from landfills” wrote Lungren in a statement Thursday.  Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said in a statement, “Waste-to-energy is one of the steps we need to take to end our dependence on foreign energy sources and dictators like Hugo Chavez.”

The support for sending trash from the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings was bipartisan.  Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, praised the news of the waste-to-energy program, saying "“It’s the appropriate thing to do, burning our waste and getting energy from it,” he said.  Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who pays a carbon-offset provider to offset the greenhouse gas emissions related to his Washington and district offices, said, “I’m totally open to it [WTE], if it’s done right." 

Statement of Ted Michaels, President, Energy Recovery Council:

“The Energy Recovery Council applauds the decision of the Architect of the Capitol and the Committee on House Administration to send Congress’ non-recyclable waste to waste-to-energy facilities. By relying on waste-to-energy, Congress will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, reduce the Capitol’s greenhouse gas emissions, increase the region’s supply of renewable energy and reduce dependence on landfilling. Waste-to-energy is recognized around the world as a renewable, low-emission power source and a sustainable waste management tool. It also provides thousands of well-paying, clean energy jobs that can’t be exported. It is extremely encouraging to see Congress stand behind this technology in a bipartisan way. Our industry looks forward to continuing to support local jobs while providing clean, affordable power for the region.”

ERC Submits Comments to EPA on Measuring MSW Trends

The Energy Recovery Council filed comments this week on EPA’s notice seeking input on measuring waste generation, recovery, and disposal in the United States. EPA has for years relied upon data generated by the Franklin Institute which estimated the amount of waste generated in the United States based on manufacturing data. Due to inherent flaws in this process which leads to the gross underestimation of waste generation, the ERC has relied upon the data published by BioCycle/Columbia University in its biannual State of the Garbage in America, which relies on data reported by state agencies. ERC’s comments are intended to drive EPA to reporting-based data. In addition, ERC recommends that they begin to track all types of waste, not just traditional municipal solid waste.

Minneapolis WTE Facility Earns SWANA Award

The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) has received a Waste-to-Energy Excellence Award at the Gold level from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). SWANA’s Excellence Awards Program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management. HERC, located in downtown Minneapolis, provides reliable, renewable electricity that is sold to Xcel Energy and steam that supplies the downtown district energy system and Target Field. HERC is owned by Hennepin County and operated by Covanta Energy. To earn the award, HERC was judged on a wide variety of criteria, including engineering and technology, operational performance and efficiency, environmental compliance, aesthetics, other recycling and solid waste management programs in the county, public relations and education, and innovation and creativity. HERC is situated in a unique and highly visible urban location. With the construction of Target Field, new light rail, commuter rail and other mass transit projects, and residential and commercial redevelopment efforts, the neighborhood around the HERC has changed significantly since operations began more than 20 years ago.  The county has also worked with community partners to ensure that HERC continues to be a good neighbor and an integral part of downtown redevelopment.