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

Erin Rasmussen erin at trmiles.com
Thu Dec 8 10:44:19 PST 2011



From: greenbuilding-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org
[mailto:greenbuilding-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org] On Behalf Of Tim
Vireo Keating
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2011 6:41 PM
To: Green Building; 'Reuben Demling'; 'Gennaro Brooks-Church'
Subject: Re: [Greenbuilding] Another Green Myth: Garbage Incinerators Are
Green Sources of Energy




While I would admit that there is a (very small) place for burning waste, I
believe the 'places' you have mentioned are not them.


First, there is truly very little "non-recyclable" waste paper generated in
the US. I can vouch for just what I put into my mixed-paper bin, knowing
that it's heading to Marcal in norther NJ to be made into napkins, toilet
paper and paper towels. Having toured the plant, I can tell you that there's
almost nothing I generate that can't be recycled there. Those few things
include my own used toilet paper (sent to the sewer treatment plant and
likely ending up as sludge or in solution), a few used napkins (which I've
gleaned from others - I don't use paper napkins myself and actually collect
the unused ones off of restaurant tables and recycle them) and some stickers
that are stuck to some plastic labeling that I place into my plastic bag
recycling. Otherwise, what might one consider as "non-recyclable" paper??
Certainly nothing that would, if we all recycled to this degree, be seen as
interesting to an incinerator.


Then, there's wood waste. I can tell you that the only thing that makes
sense is wood waste that might make any sense to burn would be wood with
paint or varnish of some kind on it or wood that has been engineered with
some type of glue. All 'clean' wood could be chipped and used in compost or
mulch, returned to the soil, which is a much better use than burning it. And
as for the wood with the chemical compounds, bear in mind that burning it
means that this stuff likely enters our atmosphere, to eventually be
breathed in by us and other air-breathing organisms with whom we share this


IMHO, incinerators simply make no sense. For the billions it takes to build
one, we could more effectively and more cheaply educate the local population
to source separate, create municipal collection that would allow for
recycling of multiple streams, etc. In the long run, this would reduce
waste, reduce new extraction, increase recovery and give people a sense of
where there stuff comes from and where it goes.


Also the billions spent on incinerators (promoted by GE and others) would go
a long way towards weatherizing existing homes in these locales to reduce
energy consumption - the phoney reason for which  these facilities are built
(in actuality, they're built to make the companies lots and lots of money on
contracts with counties).


tim keating


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