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

Corwyn corwyn at midcoast.com
Sat Dec 3 09:27:20 PST 2011

On 12/3/2011 12:08 PM, RT wrote:

> 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.

Well in the cases of copper and aluminum, we are talking about elements, 
and require conditions like the inside of a star to change from that.

> 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.

The sins of garbage are as ever:

1. Poisoning.  Taking a benign substance and mixing it with a toxic, 
poisonous, or radioactive substance.  This basically multiples the 
amount of poisons that need to be contained, and kept away from food, 
water and other elements of the environment.

2. Dispersal.  Take a pound of gold, grind it into dust and release it 
out of a plane.   This is taking a valuable thing and spreading it so 
thinly that getting anymore value out of it is basically impossible.

3. Un-purifying.  A large amount of energy and effort goes into making 
pure substances.  Mixing those up with other things in ways difficult to 
reverse, requires that energy to be re-spent or wastes it entirely. 
This is the  problem with crushing cars.

4. Removing from the life cycle.  Life is the food for life.  Taking the 
remains of a living thing and making such that it will never become life 
again is a waste.  Note that carbon sequestering is a temporary 
exception to this rule.

5. Not forward thinking.  Just because we don’t currently have a use for 
a thing or substance, does not mean that we never will.   There is no 
such thing as a ‘waste’ product.

Topher Belknap
Green Fret Consulting
Kermit didn't know the half of it...
topher at greenfret.com
(207) 882-7652

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