Renewable Energy

Waste-to-Energy (WTE)
You probably know the SWA for our garbage and recycling programs, but did you know we are a major producer of renewable energy? While the Solid Waste Authority’s waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities reduces the volume of waste disposed in the landfill it also uses household garbage as fuel to produce clean electricity.

According to the EPA, WTE plants are a “clean, reliable, renewable source of energy” that generate electricity “with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.” In fact, WTE plants improve air quality by decreasing the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.
Realizing the benefits of WTE, the SWA has plans to increase our capacity from the current 2,500 tons per day to over 5,500 tons per day by 2015.

Air Emissions (Pounds per Megawatt Hour)
Fuel Type
CO2
SO2
NOx
Coal
2,249
13
6
Oil
1,672
12
4
Natural gas
1,135
0.1
1.7
Municipal solid waste
837
0.8
5.4

Source: “Comparison of Air Emissions from Waste-to-Energy Facilities to Fossil Fuel Power Plants, 2005,” SWANA Applied Research Foundation, by Jeremy O’Brien.

Landfill Gas
Additionally, the SWA uses landfill gas, which consists primarily of methane, as a renewable energy source to produce clean energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Using landfill gas, the SWA is making one state-of-the art environmentally beneficial project even better. At the SWA’s Biosolids Pelletization Facility (BPF), landfill gas is used to power the sludge dryers as an alternative to natural gas. The SWA and its partners constructed this facility to provide for the efficient and environmentally safe disposal of sludge from waste water treatment plants. At the BPF, sludge is dried, pelletized and sold to fertilizer blenders as a natural and nutrient rich component of commercial fertilizers.

This is just the 1st step in the beneficial use of landfill gas at the Solid Waste Authority, and we are committed to increasing the use of landfill gas in the future.