Waste to energy means producing energy from burning trash, and is the least ideal option in our waste-management circle. If done intelligently, waste to energy plants can reduce the volume of garbage going into a landfill by 90% , and recoup some of the energy present in the trash. Irresponsible waste incineration, however, can make the toxins present in trash both more mobile and more lethal, further exacerbating the problem of what to do with what we throw away.
Waste to energy still sends some materials – usually ash – to a landfill, where most of our trash is still being buried. Landfills are fraught with environmental problems. These include household and industrial wastes leaking into the ground and contaminating our food and drinking water, the release of greenhouse gasses such as methane, and the permanent loss of valuable materials and nutrients – many of which were just recently dug up out of the ground. The limited and leaky nature of landfills only highlights the old adage – There is no such place as away.
- Sweden wants your trash (florence20.typepad.com)