Talking Trash

Posted on by Steve Stillwater

Contrast the approach to handling trash in Denmark with that in New York.

Denmark collects trash locally and, after making sure all recyclables are separated, burns this waste to create electricity—a lot of electricity. Only 4% of the trash in Horsholm, Denmark goes to landfill. All the rest is either recycled or converted into electricity. Such trash-to-energy plants are becoming a mainstay of both garbage disposal and energy production across Denmark.

New York, on the other hand, sends 10,500 tons of trash each day to landfills as far away as Ohio and South Carolina. Aside from the fact that transporting this weighty amount of garbage consumes plenty of energy, none of it is burned to produce electricity. Why?

Because powerful environmental groups in New York actually oppose converting trash to clean energy. “Incinerators are really the devil,” said Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group. “Once you build a waste-to-energy plant, you then have to feed it. Our priority is pushing for zero waste.”

So, to exert maximum pressure to reduce waste, New York PIRG is opposing converting trash-to-energy technology, even though embracing the technology would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution, but also yield copious amounts of electricity.

Read the whole article from the New York Times.

New York PIRG should rethink their position. Zero waste is not possible in New York City, but converting some of that waste to electricity is possible now.

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