Since opening in 1990, the Huntsville Waste to Energy facility has served as the cornerstone of the community’s integrated solid waste management system.  This system is recognized as the preferred method of solid waste management by the U. S. EPA.  The integrated waste management system designates the most desirable solid waste management method as Reduction, then Reuse, Recycling, Recovery/waste to energy and finally, Landfilling.

The facility is owned by the Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) and is operated by Covanta Energy Corporation.  Steam produced at the facility is shipped via seven miles of insulated pipeline to the U. S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal where it is used for heating and cooling their facilities.   The Authority receives 100% of the total steam sales from the U. S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal.

The facility is designed to process up to 690 tons per day of municipal solid waste, commercial waste and limited amounts of dried sewage sludge.  The pollution control technology used at the facility complies with all local, state and national environmental regulations.


The waste to energy facility reduces waste volumes by approximately 90%.  For some perspective, the amount of ash resulting from incinerating the waste in a fully loaded residential garbage truck would fit into a wheel barrow. 

Waste arriving at the facility is fed into vertical chutes and then into two mass burn, water-wall, refuse fired boilers where temperatures exceed 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.  A cleaner, more complete burn is achieved using Martin-Stoker technology which “tumbles” the waste as it is burning.  Acid gases resulting from the combustion are neutralized in a dry flue gas scrubber and particulate matter is captured by a fabric filter baghouse.  All aspects of the plant’s operations are monitored 24/7.

After combustion of the waste is complete, the resulting ash is transported to the Huntsville Landfill.  Here the ash is fed through a metals reclamation system where ferrous and non-ferrous metals are extracted from the ash.

The landfill is permitted, by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to use the ash as cover material or the ash can be buried at the landfill.