Green Business Bureau Blog
Green Electricity Produced by Post-Consumer Waste
Generation of green electricity is one of the green approaches that are required by the government to implement in governmental jurisdictions and federal agencies. The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires purchase of at least 3% of electricity from renewable sources. By the year 2013, green electricity generation is aimed at 7.5 percent.
Environmental Defense Fund reports that on 1994 alone, electricity generation caused:
1. 70% of sulfur dioxide emissions
2. 33% of nitrogen oxide emissions
3. 23% of mercury emissions and
4. 23% of direct emissions of fine airborne particles.
That was 1994. Fifteen years later, the effect is even more tragic. These emissions continually damage the environment which results to destructive effects caused by global warming. Calamities and “unnatural disasters” are becoming a way of life for most countries. Electricity comes from non-renewable resources which lead to depletion and habitat destruction. The Economic Defense Fund states that nuclear and fossil fuel-based electric production produces “acid rain which causes $6 billion a year of damage to crops, forests, lakes and buildings.”
Green electricity is power generated from renewable resources. These resources may come in the form of solar energy, wind panels, hydropower and yes even post-consumer waste among others. One of the reasons why residents and household owners could not switch to green electricity is because materials can cost quite a lot at the start. With the present economic condition, many would prefer to spend on conventional sources than investing in new initiatives. Although the long-term result will significantly decrease expenses, many continue to generate electricity using non-renewable sources.
Waste to energy conversion seems to pose solution to this predicament. Post-consumer waste have proven to be a vital source or energy while at the same time helps eliminates landfills, recycling without sorting and complete thermal conversion.
The amount of Waste generation is generally determined by the urban population and economic prosperity of the municipality or the country in general. First world countries usually produce higher percentage of waste compared to developing countries. Thus, it is recommended for developed countries to invest in waste management to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions caused by improper waste disposal and landfills problems.
“United States produced and estimated 251 million tons of municipal solid waste. That’s about 4.6 pounds per person per day. About one third of that waste consisted of packaging and containers. Food, yard waste, and other organic throwaways accounted for another 25%. Newspapers, magazines, and other nondurable goods made up 25% of the total, while durable goods such as kitchen appliances and tires accounted for 16%. Most of the garbage – approximately 55% — wound up in landfills. Another 31% was recycled, and just 14% was converted to energy.”
There are a number of organizations that offers technology to convert waste into energy. Some of which include Recovery Energy, Inc., IST Energy Corporation and Polymer Energy. Recovery Energy Inc. offers “complete recovery of energy from waste using current technologies including plasma gasification.” IST Energy Corporation “developed GEM – a waste to energy solution that integrates into consumer waste processing streams, mitigates the negative impact associated with waste disposal, and directs clean renewable energy back into power grids.” Polymer Energy on the other hand, provides methods of recycling and disposal of plastic waste. It uses catalyctic pyrolysis to efficiently convert plastics (primary polyolefins) into crude oil.
The benefits of waste to energy conversion are substantial not to mention sustainable. In the process, citizens will conserve thousands of acres of lands that are lost annually to landfills. Depletion of non-renewable resources will cease to be a worry and lesser expense will be shouldered by end-users. The government needs to encourage, if not institutional funding and sponsorship of waste to energy conversion within municipalities and businesses to create a significant impact in the fight against continuous environmental destruction.