Given the amount of municipal solid waste discarded by Americans annually (250 million tons in 2010, for example), finding resource from waste is not only necessary to overcome the abundance of waste -- but is also a responsible, proactive way of addressing an otherwise grim reality.
Truth is, landfills provide the opportunity for immense energy regeneration if their methane byproducts are, quite literally, tapped. Methane is created as waste rots -- and when methane wells are tapped, they provide a quite reliable source of energy that also happens to be quite economical.
Deemed resource recovery facilities, these landfills that have installed methane-capturing wells, are demonstrating the symbiotic opportunities between landfills and facilities who store, utilize, and process the energy from captured methane.
One example of the innovative pathways these types of symbiotic relationships can take is Catawba County, North Carolina's EcoComplex -- an 800-acre site with several beneficial onsite relationships occurring. Demonstrating just how savvy these partnerships can be, this EcoComplex produces enough energy to supply more than 1,500 nearby residences; additional heat energy is transported to nearby Appalachian State University where its converted into biodiesel.
The industrial park also includes a lumberyard whose scraps are gathered by an onsite pallet company that uses the scraps to produce its pallets.
The EPA has begun a Landfill Methane Outreach Program -- a voluntary program that encourages landfill operators to consider a methane collection initiative at their facilities.
And this is only one example of the growing number of resource recovery efforts across the United States. Have you had experience with resource recovery? What innovative projects have you seen in your area? How do you foresee the future of resource recovery? Please leave your comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Software Advice's website.