The Benefits of Waste Tracking and Waste-to-Energy Initiatives

wasteTracking waste helps efficiency in a couple of ways, one general and one specific.

In general, benchmarking and tracking promote efficiencies. Processes are streamlined, with unnecessary steps removed. Things run better simply by the act of calling attention to the issue. More specifically, the tracking waste goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of the waste-to-energy sector. That, in a very real sense, turns waste into money.

In August, the The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added a waste tracker tool to its Portfolio Manager Platform. On Friday, Jean Lupinacci, the director of the Energy Star Commercial & Industrial Branch, offered an update in a column at GovTech.

It seems that results from the program itself are not yet available – or, at least, they weren’t included in the update. However, Lupinacci pointed to the benefits that are possible:

We know that waste tracking can achieve the same levels of success thanks to the savings reported from many industry leaders. To give some examples: In 2013, Pepsi reported $3 million in landfill costs while increasing revenue from recyclable and reusable materials. General Motors reports generating $1 billion in revenue each year through its recycling program. Toyota reported $1.3 million in net savings from waste management, largely due to its use of reusable packaging, which has saved wood and cardboard equivalent to more than 2.3 million trees.

The San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, NM, according to The Daily Times, has used a “Green Team” approach since 2007 that has resulted in a reduction of 200 tons of landfill waste annually. The hospital is saving $2 million via the approach. The team meets quarterly to develop energy efficiency ideas.

The next step is the use of that waste as the raw ingredient for power generation. At this point, it seems that the process is gaining strength outside the United States. Bryan Jardine, an attorney for the lawfirm of Wolf Theiss, provides an overview of waste-to-energy deployments at Lexology. He writes that Austria is a European leader in the approach and the Czech Republic is not far behind. Bulgaria has not developed the technology. Neither has Hungary – but Jardine suggests that that is expected to change soon. The story provides status updates on Poland, Slovenia, Albania, Romania Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and the Slovak Republic.

Separately, AllAfrica reports that a plant is nearing completion near the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, the fate of a waste-to-energy plant in Florida remains in question. The questions seem tied to politics and not the feasibility of the technology. Eliminating waste and subsequently using it to produce energy is a two-step process. Both hold great promise.

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