Compared to Landfilling waste, Waste-to-Energy facilities offer several advantages.
Resource savings and recovery greatly expanded. Producing steam at the Huntsville Waste to Energy facility alone saves over 200,000 barrels of oil being used each year. Metals left in the municipal solid waste stream can be extracted from the ash resulting from incineration and the metals can be recycled.
Waste to Energy facilities generate power in the form of electricity or steam. The Huntsville Waste to Energy facility can deliver up to 400,000 lbs/hour of uninterruptible steam to the U. S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal. Efforts are being made to assist Redstone in becoming “energy independent.” Using on-site energy sources would enhance Redstone’s energy security.
Waste to Energy is a Net Greenhouse Gas Reducer. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is mostly emitted from decomposing waste in U. S. landfills. It has more than 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide and is ranked as a dangerous contributor to climate change. Waste to energy facilities avoid the production of methane while producing almost ten times more electricity from each ton of waste compared to landfills. And, waste to energy facilities are the only solid waste disposal option with state-of-the-art air pollution control technology.
WTE facilities in the US account for approximately 20% of all renewable electricity generation. WTE facilities, unlike wind and solar, are capable of providing baseload renewable electrical power (baseload meaning 24/7 availability).
Landfill usage and landfill expansions greatly reduced. Waste to energy facilities typically reduce waste volumes by 90%. Fewer and smaller landfills are needed to process ash and this protects a valuable natural resource – land.
Trucking of waste long distances can be greatly reduced. With a waste to energy facility in a community, shorter trucking distances result in less air pollution, less truck traffic. Large regional landfills are often located long distances from the communities using them.
Tipping fees remain in the community where the waste is generated. Large regional landfills are usually privately owned and their revenues often do not remain in the communities generating the waste but waste to energy facility revenues largely remain in the community. Tipping fees at regional landfills are based on levels of competition from other regional landfills and may not be related to the cost of disposal. Because of long term contracts and a fixed debt repayment structure, waste to energy facilities offer stable tipping fees for municipal waste. Large regional landfills, usually privately owned, compete with other landfills for waste and the tipping fees can be unpredictable.
The economy of the community is enhanced. According to the Energy Recovery Council, the average waste to energy facility in the US is responsible for the creation of 58 full time jobs. Generally, these are salaried, skilled positions with relatively high pay. And, these jobs have at least a 40 year projected life.