In 2011, there were 75 waste-to-energy plants operating in 20 states, with a total electric generating capacity of 2,238 megawatts, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s Today in Energy Series. During the same year, waste-to-energy plants generated approximately 14 million megawatthours of electricity from MSW, or about 0.3% of total U.S. generation, which was roughly the same as geothermal electricity generation in the United States.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, waste-to-energy plants combusted about 29 million tons of MSW for energy recovery in the United States in 2010, which is about 12% of total domestic MSW. Approximately 34% of MSW was recycled or composted, and the remaining 54% of MSW was discarded in landfills.
This article first appeared as an EIA Today in Energy story.