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Babcock & Wilcox News
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Common Misperceptions of WTE Often Overshadow its Benefits
As private and public companies and local communities seek ways to lessen their environmental impact, waste-to-energy can be a first step in reducing the volume of material going to landfill while providing the added benefit of energy production. Waste-to-energy creates a beneficial use for waste that can’t be recycled or that has reached the end of its recyclability.
In an article appearing in American Recycler, B&W Renewable Senior VP Kim Bredahl explains that governmental policies, particularly in Europe, Asia and parts of the U.S., can help incentivize waste-to-energy (WTE) as an alternative to landfills and to combat landfill methane emissions. He also discusses the significant role both recycling and energy production play in a circular economy.
One of the biggest challenges facing WTE efforts is overcoming the misperceptions about the technology. Part of these misperceptions of the general public is a lack of understanding about what WTE is and how it can improve communities. In fact, in communities where waste-to-energy is coupled with recycling programs, increased participation in recycling often occurs. Unrecyclable waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill is converted into baseload power while emissions are controlled through advanced environmental technologies. Waste-to-energy can even be paired with carbon capture technologies to produce energy with net-negative greenhouse gas emissions.
Modern waste-to-energy facilities are highly compatible with municipal areas and can become important parts of and contributors to the communities they serve, providing needed power, economic growth, jobs and even recreational opportunities.