ELECTRICITY FROM WASTE
There are two ways in which electricity is commonly generated from municipal waste.
The waste is usually disposed of either by buning it or by using it for landfill.
If the waste is to be burned, it can be used to generate electricity as the fuel in a biomass power plant.
How It Works
If the waste goes to landfill, the organic material in it will eventually decompose, producing methane gas. This gas can be captured and used to fuel an electricity generation plant.
Environmental Impact of Burning Waste
Waste contains a diverse mixture of materials, some of which are toxic. If not properly managed, burning the waste can release harmful pollutants into the air. In addition, because waste is not an efficient fuel, burning it produces more carbon dioxide than burning other fuels. On the other hand, because a lot of municipal waste is paper, wood or other organic material, it would eventually decompose and produce the carbon dioxide anyway.
Burning waste produces ash, as well as gas. Most of this ash is used in building roads.
Environmental Impact of Power from Landfill Gas
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and disposing of it in a landfill gas power plant is environmentally positive.
However, using landfill to dispose of waste can be environmentally hazardous. Since waste often contains toxic materials, like lead, cadmium and mercury, burying it can create an environmental problem if they are allowed to get into the ground water supplies from which they can work their way into the food chain.
Municipal waste combustor