MWMA Explores Compatibility of Waste to Energy and Recycling Programs
By Susan Jarvis
November 3, 2003
Katie Cullen, Vice President for the Integrated Waste Services Association (IWSA) and Nancy McCann, Urban Environmental Coordinator for the City of Tampa shared the results of a 2002 IWSA survey designed to re-examine whether waste to energy and recycling programs are compatible. A 1992 IWSA survey indicated that the two programs were compatible.
Key findings of the 2002 Survey conclude that 100 percent of Waste to Energy Communities are linked to offsite recycling program, 82 percent of waste to energy facilities have on'site recycling programs and all participants cited evidence that waste to energy and recycling programs are compatible. Communities indicated that waste to energy facilities provide an alternative to stockpiling, when the markets for recycled goods are unavailable. Additionally, communities with both waste to energy and recycling facilities noted that they are self sufficient in terms of managing waste locally.
In Florida, more than half of the population is served by waste management systems that include 13 waste to energy facilities. In Tampa, the McKay Bay Waste to Energy Facility burns 320,000 tons of garbage a year, generating 150,000,000-kilowatt hours of electricity for 15,000 homes. Tampa recycles 80,000 tons yearly, through both curbside and commercial programs. The city has found the waste to energy facility benefits its recycling program by reducing the quantity of ash, removing lead and mercury from the stream, and relieving the waste stream of recyclables that can-t be sold. Tampa believes its successful waste to energy and recycling programs are due to an appropriately sized facility and a secure financing structure.
A solid waste master plan guides the Massachusetts waste to energy program. Shawn Worster, Executive Director, North East Solid Waste Commission, a regional organization that manages waste disposal on behalf of 23 Massachusetts Municipalities, including 7 waste to energy facilities, outlined the successes and challenges of the consortium. Long-term goals of NESWC include a reduction in toxicity, product stewardship, enforcement programs and an educational outreach program that promotes "pay-as-you-throw" programs.