In an era of global warming, limited resources, overflowing landfills, and climate change, U.S. Science & Technology offers a clean, environmentally responsible process for managing municipal solid waste, namely plasma gasification. Throughout North America, populations are becoming more concerned about the environment and this is being articulated by politicians at all levels. Most environmental legislation under consideration would make it even more beneficial for municipalities to start using plasma gasification to turn their waste into energy. The Energy Act of 2005 recognized municipal solid waste (MSW) as a renewable energy source, a vision which plasma technology helps to make reality.
"The U.S. produces 1.4 billion tons of wastes and residue materials per year, impacting air and water quality, decreasing land values, limiting future use of land, and increasing costs to municipalities, industry and ultimately the consumer."
Source: Environmental Technology Opportunities Portal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Project Plan, Waste to Energy Team, January 2005.
As increasing numbers of landfills across America close and waste transport becomes restricted, the demand for an environmentally friendly waste disposal process is escalating. Plasma gasification offers clean solutions to both the waste and energy issues by producing renewable energy, alternative fuels, and economical reform … all by working with our greatest liability, waste.
Further, landfills are no longer a good option for waste disposal. In the U.S. and Canada, skyrocketing costs, environmental concerns, and land shortages make landfills problematic at best. In fact, in this part of the world, landfills are closing faster than they open up, resulting in a net loss. Now municipalities are competing for very limited water transfer and disposal space, which quickly translates into higher costs for taxpayers.
As a result, significant tonnages of garbage are shipped interstate. In 2004, Maryland exported 2.6 million tons of waste. For nine months in 2005, Tullytown, Pennsylvania received 400,000 tons of garbage from New York State. Common problems caused by interstate waste transfer include the high cost of hazardous waste transport, increased pollution from diesel exhaust, and potential safety issues concerning large waste transport vehicles sharing the roads.
The problems associated with solid waste landfills such as the release of toxins to the air, soil, and ground and surface water are not new. State officials monitor safety issues at closed landfills for a minimum of 30 years, but the waste usually lasts much longer. Liner systems tend to fail over time, ceasing to effectively collect leachate and transport it to a sump for removal. If leachate penetrates the liner system and pollutes groundwater, local ecologies and residents are at risk from toxic runoff and contamination that could cause health hazards.
Waste generation and treatment problems continue to grow causing serious consequences for public health and nature. As the landfill's waste decomposes, it creates greenhouse gases comprised of about 50-60% methane, 40-50% carbon dioxide, and smog-related air toxins, which are recognized as being carcinogenic and causing other health hazards.
In contrast, plasma gasification will allow existing landfills to be used more efficiently and cost-effectively, even allowing them to be mined for energy production and eventually cleaned up for better environmental protection and land recovery. Plasma gasification is ready to commercially convert these increasing waste problems into an economically viable and environmentally friendly local energy source. In addition, plasma gasification will help prevent acid rain, while producing thousands of barrels of new alternative fuels or MegaWatt-hours of electricity. Plasma gasification addresses the need for more fuel while domestic supplies are decreasing, and reduces our reliance on foreign supplies. This process generates the most energy for the amount of waste of any of the waste management technologies, and it does so in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Plasma gasification can manage hazardous and non-hazardous waste, supporting a wide variety of feedstocks, while being the cleanest waste-to-energy technology available.
Plasma gasification has the potential to eliminate not only the greenhouse gases produced by landfills, such as methane, but also help eliminate the greenhouse gases associated with the trucks needed to export waste. Where some might see just a problem, we see it as an opportunity to set a new precedent: better recycling, improved recovery and reduced carbon footprint.
We are focused on taking the proper steps in implementing environmentally and economically beneficial waste-to-energy systems. Every day that conventional waste disposal processes and conventional resources are used, the problem worsens. Now is the time to act and utilize sustainable innovative technologies to work with the planet as opposed to against it, to preserve the land, and to project humanity forward into a new era of responsibility in order to sustain the quality of life for all living things.
When a municipality implements plasma gasification technology to address its waste and energy problems, it establishes itself as a leader in waste management solutions, environmental initiatives, and energy independence.
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
- Aldo Leopold