Wheelabrator is committed to protecting public health and the environment. This commitment is reflected in the services we provide to our customers, the design and operation of our facilities, the conditions under which employees work, and our interactions with the communities where we live and do business. We are responsible stewards of the environment and protect the health and well being of our employees and neighbors.
What is Waste-to-Energy?
Waste-to-energy is a clean, renewable, efficient, and economical form of energy production an post-recycled waste disposal that also helps the U.S. achieve energy independence and decrease reliance on fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, to generate electricity.
Waste-to-energy facilities use municipal solid waste (MSW) as a fuel to generate renewable energy in almost the same way that traditional power plants produce electricity. The U.S. EPA has said waste-to-energy facilities produce electricity 'with less environment impact than almost any other source of electricity' and 'communities greatly benefit from dependable, sustainable capacity of municipal waste-to-energy plants.'
Modern waste-to-energy facilities use proven technology to take everyday post-recycled waste and convert it into clean, renewable energy by feeding mixed municipal solid waste into large power boilers through controlled combustion. The resulting heat energy produces steam, which turns a turbine-generator to produce electricity. The process of converting waste into energy is a key part of an integrated materials management plan that focuses on reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery of energy.
Waste-to-Energy and Environmental Regulation
Federal and State Regulatory Agencies oversee, inspect and enforce regulations to protect public health and the environment. These Agencies are empowered to revoke environmental and operating permits at facilities that have been determined to cause harm to the environment or to public health.
Waste-to-Energy and Recycling
Communities across the U.S. have turned to source reduction, recycling and waste-to-energy to manage their municipal solid waste. Over the past 30 years, the percentage of trash recycled has grown from 10 percent to a national average of more than 30 percent. At the local level, communities with waste-to-energy plants have an average recycling rate of more than 33 percent, 10 percent higher than the national average. In addition, waste-to-energy facilities annually recycle more than 700,000 tons of ferrous metals and another 450,000 tons of glass, metals, paper, plastics, yard waste, etc.
Waste-to-Energy and Climate Change
The innovative technologies used in waste-to-energy facilities help create a sustainable energy system, significantly reduce dependence on foreign oil supplies and ensure a safer environment for the future. Many scientists believe emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” are leading to unusually high warming of the atmosphere or “global warming.” The U.S. Department of Energy has labeled waste-to-energy technology as a major part of a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
Wheelabrator is leading the change in producing clean, renewable energy from waste fuels. As a pioneer, Wheelabrator opened the first commercially successful waste-to-energy facility in the U.S. in 1975 and has accomplished many industry leading milestones and achievements.