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Energy from Garbage

Page history last edited by Lisa Whitaker 10 years, 5 months ago
  •      Note: please note that this profile of a policy option or program model should (a) link back to the issue overview on this topic, (b) be focused either the local, state, national, or global level, and (c) be neutrally presented, based on facts, and include footnotes for each of the items.  See the Research Guide and Information Sources to assist you.


This policy option or model program profile relates to the following issue overview(s):



Summary    one paragraph description 

  • It is possible to extract usable energy by several different means from what we throw away. Whether burned or buried and used to harvest landfill gas, grabage can be part of the solution to the problems of American energy dependence as well as global climate change.  



Goal    short description of the policy or program goal  

  •   To utilize what we have hitherto wasted to generate energy to cut both our dependence on unstable forms of energy as well as to lower C02 emissions in an effort to slow and eventually reverse global climate change. Garbage can either be incinerated to create electric power or buried to harvest landfill gas which can be burned in much the same way as natural gas.


Cost    total policy or program cost; also include per person cost if available 

  •   Costs vary according to locality concerning landfill gas harvesting facilities, though a new facility in Midland Mich is roughly comparative in its 12 million dollar cost.
    • Plant is expected to pay for itself within four years. [2]
  • A modern waste incinerator costs as much as $200 million dollars to build, though after that it is exentially self-sufficient because it generates its own power as well as energy to integrate into the public grid.



Implementation    describe how the policy or program is implemented (esp. who, how) 

  •   To use the waste for direct energy generation, local governments or private entities can burn the refuse in what is known as RDF incinerators that seperate recyclable material from the waste before it is incinerated at very high temperature, killing disease-causing microbes and destroying harmful chemicals. The ash that is left over is often used for construction projects after it has been proven to be safe.
  • Harvesting landfill gas from waste material involves placing the waste in the groung exactly as in any other landfill. Pipes are placed over the covered waste, which naturally produce landfill gas (the vast majority of which is methane) and the gas is harvested. This has two major advantages. The gas is mostly methane, as is natural gas, and the two can be burned in the same way to produce energy. Methane is also a greenhouse gas with a potency 23 times as damaging as C02. Burning the gas removes much of the greenhouse effect that the gas would have, resulting in a reduction of emissions. [1]



Evaluation    summarize any evaluation findings that policy or program effectiveness

  •   Although there is no uniform policy concerning the generation of energy from waste, those localities that invest to do so are often well rewarded.
  • Even though all programs are voluntary, the epa reports that methane emissions are 11% below 1990 levels (as of 2005), even though there was economic growth during this period.
    • Levels are most likely not going to rise above 1990 levels due to the wider use of aforementioned practices. [1]



Status    indicate whether this policy or program has been adopted in more locations or remains a proposal 

  •   Different localities deal with the issue of waste in different ways, though landfill gas harvesting and waste incineration are becoming more popular and economical.



Point of View    quotations from those in support or opposition to this policy or program 




Contact     contact information for sponsor of this policy or program 



Bibliography    link to any additional readings or websites related to this policy or program 


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