[Greenbuilding] Another Green Myth: Garbage Incinerators Are Green Sources of Energy

RT archilogic at yahoo.ca
Sat Dec 3 09:08:54 PST 2011

On Sat, 03 Dec 2011 09:18:56 -0500, elitalking <elitalking at rockbridge.net>  

> When peak oil,peak copper, peak bauxite, finally kicks in, we will want  
> the material that is being destroyed by landfill or incineration.

I find it curious that material going into a landfill would be relegated  
to the same category (ie "destroyed") as material that is incinerated.

Materials like plastics, copper, aluminum (ie peak oil/copper/bauxite)  
would require time lines in the order of decades, if not centuries or  
millennia) in order completely decompose when buried in a landfill.

As such, I view landfills as resource storage facilities with the  
capability to be mined for the purposes of material recovery at some time  
in the future when we've depleted the virgin resource to the point that  
recovery from landfills for re-use would make economic sense.

Incineration OTOH, when implemented at its most efficient (ie net energy  
gain,w.zero emissions as in the case of the Plasco "Plasma Gasification  
Process" developed here in Kanata  http://www.plascoenergygroup.com/ )  
leaves nothing behind except a glass-like material .  ie The materials are  
essentially "destroyed" forever. Zero opportunity for recovery/re-use.

Here in Ottawa, the City provides curbside Blue Box (plastics,  
metals,glass), Black Box (paper,cardboard), Green Bin (organic kitchen  
wastes) and yard waste (leaves, tree limbs, grass clippings etc) pickup  
programs in an effort to divert waste from landfills.

No new landfills have been approved in the province of Ontario since 1999.

However, even with the above (ie  extensive municipal waste diversion  
programs, no new landfills in sight) the following figures from the  
Stewardship Ontario "waste audit" program


===================== copied material========================

				Recovery rate
Newsprint						86.6 %
Magazines & catalogues			86.6 %
Cardboard packing boxes				91.7 %
paper laminants					1.0 %
Plastic bottles						56.5 %
Plastic film							9.8 %
Plastic laminants					1.0 %
Polystyrene							4.8 %
Steel food & drink cans				66.6 %
Aluminum food & drink cans			47.2 %

=============== end of copied material ===============

... show that an appalling amount of high embodied-energy material still  
ends up going to the landfill... high embodied-energy material that will  
be destroyed (ie no opportunity for recovery and re-use)  when used for  
the extremely low-grade purpose of incinerator fuel. Seems extremely  
wasteful to me and a very pale shade of Green, if at all.

If a municipality desires to generate energy from waste, I would venture  
that bio-gas harvesting might be a better course to pursue. Poop, pee and  
other methane-generating organic wastes (ie kitchen/yard as well as  
bathroom) are "waste" materials that will never be in short supply  
wherever there are humans (and the animals that are used to support  

The nice thing (or as much as excrement can be considered "nice") about  
bio-gas recovery is that it can be done at the local neighbourhood scale  
(ie small, minimal infrastucture, next-to-zero transport involved).

=== * ===
Rob Tom
Kanata, Ontario, Canada

< A r c h i L o g i c  at  Y a h o o  dot  c a  >
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