Trash incineration is a growing trend in the United States, and we’re not talking about trash barrel burning in your backyard. We’re talking about the large-scale waste-to-energy facilities located across the country.
A waste-to-energy plant in Germany. By Norbert Nagel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities across the globe are expected to process more than 260 million tons of waste per year by 2022. If you recall, waste-to-energy facilities are modern landfills that are able to convert trash into energy. It’s a way to treat garbage as a renewable energy source, albeit not quite as "renewable" as wind or solar.
The estimated 250 million tons of trash that enters the municipal waste system in the U.S. each year can actually be useful. In the past, a landfill was simply a giant mound of garbage, but that’s starting to change. More and more landfills across the country are turning to new technologies designed to convert a potentially harmful byproduct of landfills, methane gas, into a usable source of energy.