Myths & Misconceptions about WTE

Waste-to-Energy facilities pollute the environment.
 As part of the 1990 Clean Air Act mandates, EPA promulgated new air pollution control standards for municipal waste combustors, including waste-to-energy facilities. These standards also require facilities to use the “maximum achievable control technology,” and therefore are referred to as the MACT standards. No new facilities can be built unless they can demonstrate that they can meet the strict new standards and those existing facilities that do not currently meet the new standards will need to be retrofitted or upgraded with these technologies or they will be shut down. These new standards ensure that waste-to-energy is one of the cleanest sources of power in the world. Energy is produced from trash as cleanly as it is produced from natural gas, reports a recent booklet jointly released by the U.S. conference of Mayors, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and others. In a Feb. 14, 2002 letter to the IWSA, representatives from the US EPA stated that waste-to-energy facilities are a “clean, reliable, renewable source of energy”.
Waste-to-Energy competes with recycling.
Waste-to-Energy facilities do not compete with recycling but are actually complimentary pieces of a modern Solid Waste Management program. Recyclable materials like glass and metal don’t burn anyway, so by removing them from the waste stream feeding into the furnace, you actually make the combustion process more efficient and reduce the amount of waste to be land-filled. Novo Energy encourages recycling and can build a modern Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) onto the front end of the waste-to-energy facility. Studies show that communities with Waste-to-Energy facilities recycle a higher percentage of their household municipal waste than communities without waste-to-energy facilities. WTE facilities also recover over 750,000 tons of ferrous metals every year that would otherwise be land filled.
Land-filling is cheaper and causes less pollution.
 Land-filling may initially seem like the cheaper option if your current tipping fees (gate fees) are low, but you must also include the cost of transportation to and from the facility to get the true cost of land-filling. In some cases, communities are trucking waste hundreds of miles to a landfill or utilizing expensive Transfer Stations to do the same. A Waste-to-Energy facility strategically located near your community and close to local industry can, in some cases, reduce transportation and tipping fees significantly. Building a brand new landfill is not as easy as just finding an open tract of land. Siting, building and operating a modern, Subtitle D landfill can cost millions of dollars. Land-filling does not necessarily cause less pollution either. As waste degrades Landfills emit Methane gas into the atmosphere which is a major contributor to global warming. Even with the latest liners and construction techniques, landfill leachate must be carefully monitored to insure that it does not contaminate local groundwater. This practice must continue even after the landfill has been closed.
Waste Ash is Hazardous.
The US EPA has established the TCLP test (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) for determining whether the ash from WTE facilities is hazardous. This ash must routinely be tested before it leaves the facility to insure that it is not hazardous. Ash from modern WTE facilities has been passing this test for a decade now and the EPA considers it safe for landfilling. The ash exhibits concrete-like properties causing it to harden once it is placed and compacted in a landfill. This reduces the potential for rainwater to leach contaminants in landfills into the ground. Ash landfill studies conducted over the past decade show that leachate is like salty water with a metals content at about the same level as the standards set for drinking water. In some states, waste ash can even be used as a substitute for aggregate in road bed materials
Waste-to-Energy facilities smell
Although anyone who has ever been to a landfill knows that garbage smells, Waste-to-Energy facilities do not smell until you are actually inside the facility. Modern Waste-to-Energy facilities are built so that a constant negative air pressure is always drawing air from the refuse pit (where incoming waste is dumped) into the furnace where the waste is combusted. At the temperatures encountered in a modern combustion system, like the patented AIREAL® Combustion System, all smells/odors associated with waste are eliminated. This insures that no odor will be detected around or downwind of the facility.
Waste-to-Energy projects are too expensive
Modern Waste-to-Energy facilities are built to last 25-30 years and can be financed in ways that make them affordable to the host community, county or region. When you take into consideration the savings in reduced tipping fees and transportation costs, the economic benefits during construction and the creation of jobs, Waste-to-Energy facilities, if sized right, can actually make money for their communities. Barlow Projects will work closely with you to put together the best possible financing package for the project with the minimal debt load for the community.
Recycling is a better solution
We at Novo Energy agree that recycling 100% of everything we produce is a better solution. Unfortunately, even the most efficient communities only currently recycle about 50% of their Municipal Solid Waste thus leaving another 50% for disposal in some way. We believe that rather than land filling that 50% and losing the energy stored within it, combustion with energy recovery is the better solution. We provide that solution in a clean, efficient, cost effective way that provides communities with an alternative to building costly new landfills or transfer stations while generating energy in the form of steam and electricity negating the need to burn fossil fuels to do the same.
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