The recycling chain of activity starts most often with collection—recognition that something is recyclable and it should not head to a landfill. Many of the next several steps after that involve transportation, a series of expenses that can determine to what extent the recycling endeavor will be profitable for someone.
One of the more vigorous debates within the recycling industry during the past two decades has involved collection and transportation at the household level. Companies responsible for picking up and hauling recyclables in residential neighborhoods point to the benefits of single-stream collection. Having fewer trucks and drivers on the road, they say, allows them to pick up materials at a cost that can make the endeavor worthwhile and makes the act of bringing recyclables to the curb easier for homeowners.
Single-stream collection was not hailed as an advance by everyone, however. Consumers of recyclables, paper mills in particular, decried the increased amount of contamination they witnessed in shipments, whether it was metal and crushed glass mixed into their loads of baled paper or banana peels and dirt.
Momentum ultimately moved in favor of single-stream collection (at least here in the United States; in other countries the technique often has failed to gain adherents). The chances are good that if you brought bottles, cans and paper to a tree lawn this week, it was in a single-stream container headed to a material recovery facility (MRF).
Waste Management Inc., as one of the giants in the residential collection and hauling industry, has been a proponent of single-stream collection and has endured its share of criticism from opponents of the method as a result. Recently, some have begun to wonder whether the company’s next step will be to combine garbage and recycling routes and haul material to mixed waste processing facilities (also known as “dirty MRFs”).
In a recent presentation at the 2012 Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Wastecon event, William Caesar, president of Houston-based Waste Management Recycle America, averred the company’s support for single-stream recycling collection but denied that operating “dirty MRFs” was the next step.
Caesar described himself as “a proponent of single-stream,” but indicated he did not necessarily see an evolution toward mixed waste processing facilities. “There is still value in that first separation. Somebody pays me for that relatively clean commodity. I would rather maintain two truck routes because of the value of this relatively clean material.” Referring to additional source separation, Caesar added, “I don’t want to go to nine trucks, but I’ll keep two.”
Volatility in the price of commodities, the rising cost of diesel fuel and changing collections (fewer newspapers, more plastics) are factors that have probably helped ensure single-stream maintains a place on the U.S. recycling stage.
Transportation and logistics is what Kyle Trayner, founder of KLT Industries, Ayer, Mass., says he knows best. During the past 10 years, KLT has emerged as a high-volume regional recycler of old corrugated containers (OCC) and other grades of fiber, and Trayner says knowing how to efficiently collect and move material has been a key factor in the company’s success.
Preparing materials for efficient shipment includes baling as a critical step, and KLT has recently invested to upgrade its ability to produce dense bales in a quick cycle time.
In September 2012, KLT personnel worked with Balemaster, Crown Point, Ind., on the installation of a Fat Boy baler, a Balemaster model that can draw on three motors with a combined 225 horsepower to produce up to 35 tons per hour of baled OCC.
Trayner has been involved in the recycling industry in New England for several decades, but he says his initial perspective was gained in the trucking industry.
“I grew up in the trucking and logistical side—my family was in over-the-road (OTR) trucking,” says Trayner. “I left the family business at an early age,” he continues. “We had hauled a lot of scrap paper, so when I left I worked at a baling facility that I had been familiar with. Eventually I moved into brokerage and was one of the partners of KC International, until we sold that company to KTI [in the late 1990s].”
KTI Inc., formerly headquartered in Guttenberg, N.J., was an operator of numerous recycling facilities that eventually merged into Casella Waste Systems.
Not long after selling off KC International, Trayner says he was ready for his next venture. “I founded KLT in 2002 to get back into business,” he comments. Trayner turned back to the freight and logistics knowledge he gained in his youth by focusing on for-hire trucking. However, recycling soon crept back into the picture.
“One of the paper mills I was dealing with urged me to buy some trucks to both haul in scrap paper and haul out finished paper,” he says.
KLT started doing that as well as buying materials for other paper mills in New England. “In the later 2000s we shifted the focus of the business away from for-hire trucking,” says Trayner. “And then instead of brokering we focused on locating our own facilities and placing balers in warehouses.”
For a time, Trayner says KLT worked in cooperation with GP Harmon and brought flatbed trucks equipped with Moffat forklifts to industrial locations to collect fiber. “As that moved on, a lot of our customers wanted compactors as well. So the next thing you know, we had our own roll-off trucks, our own baling facilities and our own font-end trucks.”
Trayner says KLT Industries has worked in cooperation with paper mills in New England to help them secure supply in a very competitive recovered fiber market. “A lot of the mills I’ve dealt with, as they see their fiber supply being crucial, we’ve gone further down the food chain for our mills to help them be supplied.”
As of 2012, KLT refers to itself on its website (www.kltindustries.com) as “a recognized leader in commercial paper and plastic recycling.” The company’s fleet of trucks picks up some 10,000 tons per month of recyclable material. “Our growth has been phenomenal over the past few years,” says Trayner. “We just keep going forward.”
Much of that material moves through KLT’s plant in Ayer or one of its other two facilities in Putnam, Conn., and Chepachet, R.I. The Ayer plant is the largest and was the perfect candidate for a new high-volume baler.
Trayner cites several reasons why the time was right for KLT to purchase its Fat Boy baler from Balemaster, with many of those reasons tying into shipping and material handling efficiency.
“Some of our domestic mill customers have spec’ed out super lightweight trucks to be able to haul 50,000 or 52,000 pounds of rollstock,” says Trayner. “With the Fat Boy, instead of loading 38 to 42 bales, we can do that with less than 14 bales on the truck. That’s the beauty.”
Loading and unloading 14 bales instead of 40 results in a much faster material handling process, notes Trayner. “I’ve run those forklifts myself and loaded and unloaded. When you have 48 bales, there is a time element there.”
In addition to the time- and labor-saving elements of loading fewer bales, Trayner says he won’t miss the challenge of fitting 40-plus bales into a truck. “Loading a truck with the lighter bales is like playing Jenga,” he says.
Some materials collected and processed by KTL go to export markets, and the Fat Boy will offer advantages on this front as well, says Trayner. “With the baler we have now, we struggle to get 49,000 pounds of material into containers. Now, we can negotiate knowing that hitting 57,000 to 59,000 pounds is not an issue,” he comments.
Producing fewer, heavier bales will lead to other cost advantages, says Trayner. “We also can use less baling wire and a less expensive type of baling wire. When we need to store extra tons for a while, these bales take up a tremendously smaller amount of floor space, or footprint, in our warehouse.”
Another operational advantage of the Fat Boy cited by Trayner is its large charge box. “We do a lot of reprocessing of bales from retailers and also bale Gaylord boxes,” he comments. “In a lot of two-ram models this material can cause bridge jams. When you look at the 58-inch-wide-by-43-inch-tall bale and the big charge box, this baler will swallow almost anything.”
While high-volume production is a key reason KLT selected a Fat Boy model, Trayner says the machine has been designed to adjust to whatever work load it is asked to handle on a given day.
“It’s a 225-horsepower machine but it has three 75-horsepower motors. That gives us flexibility. We can run on one motor or two or kick in the third motor and do more than 35 tons per hour of cardboard when we need to,” he comments. “The operational flexibility of that is tremendous. It’s like stepping on the accelerator on the highway.”
The baler the Fat Boy is replacing is an older model that has been in many years of solid service, but was only capable of baling seven or eight tons per hour of OCC, says Trayner.
In addition to varying the machine’s power usage, Trayner says KLT also will deploy the Fat Boy flexibly in terms of the materials it will compress on a weekly basis. “We handle sorted office paper, mixed paper, material from community collection programs and schools, plus stretch wrap and other grades of plastic from industrial generators. Everything is going to go through the Fat Boy. It can handle everything we throw at it,” he says.
At the plant in Ayer, the baler will be fed by a 20-foot long pit conveyor made by Hustler Conveyor, O’Fallon, Mo. “Everything is tipped indoors,” says Trayner. “We have multiple tipping pits for different grades. Those pits can be fed at different times to the Fat Boy.”
Finished bales are either stored in the 15,000-square-foot warehouse area or are hauled by lift truck directly to trailers waiting at one of 10 loading docks. With his freight and logistics background, Trayner makes sure KLT facilities are transportation-friendly. “You can never have too many loading docks,” he states.
Currently, the plant in Ayer handles considerably more material than the plants in Connecticut and Rhode Island. But Trayner does not preclude the possibility that additional Fat Boys will one day be installed there. “Part of our strategy is to put up baling facilities near heavily populated areas of New England. In the next 24 months, that could mean two or three new facilities.”
Trayner is not saying such growth will be easy, but he can look back with pride at what he and his colleagues have accomplished in their first decade. “The volume it takes to feed a baler this size is considerable, but we approach everything we do with an open mind,” says Trayner, adding that KLT Industries has quickly grown to “have a fleet of trucks that rivals most trucking companies in our area.”
He adds, “Our other facilities are candidates in the future for Fat Boys, just due to the efficiency of the machine. The time needed per baled ton will be cut drastically,” Trayner continues. “That creates labor savings and energy savings. The Fat Boy also is going to allow us to bring a lot more tons into our Ayer facility and have the capacity to process those tons.”
The September installation of the Fat Boy is just in time for a peak season, adds Trayner. “With the retail-related work we do, we run 24/7 through the end of January. It’ll be nice knowing we have the processing capacity.”
In the long term, says Trayner, the added baling capacity is “really going to position us to help with the overall expansion of KLT Industries. As our full-time salespeople sourcing for the facility go out and negotiate with large generators, we’re going to have that Fat Boy advantage on our side.”
The author is editorial director and associate publisher of Recycling Today and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aluminum producer Novelis Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, has long used aluminum scrap as feedstock in its operations, particularly at the can-sheet plants that were once part of the former Alcan Aluminum Corp.
The company, now a part of India-based Hindalco Industries Ltd., continues to produce can sheet from aluminum scrap in large amounts, but now also produces primary aluminum and alloys for a wide range of industries, including the automotive and consumer electronics sectors.
In 2011, Novelis’ leadership announced an ambitious goal to use scrap as 80 percent of the company’s overall feedstock at its aluminum production facilities worldwide by 2020.
“Novelis is building a supply chain that will reduce its dependence on primary metal mining, smelting and production,” says Derek Prichett, vice president of global recycling at Novelis. “That’s the impetus behind the company’s focus on sustainability as an innovative business model. By relying less on primary metals producers, Novelis not only secures a more consistent and manageable source in input material, but also positions itself as a critical partner to customers looking to increase their own use of recycled material in everything from beverage cans to automobiles to flat screen TVs and other consumer electronics products,” Prichette adds.
Recycling Today Media Group Editorial Director Brian Taylor interviewed Prichett about Novelis’ emphasis on scrap inputs and sustainability.
Recycling Today (RT): How did you become the vice president of global recycling at Novelis?
Derek Prichett (DP): We created this recycling role one year ago, based in part on meeting the objective of using 80-percent-scrap feedstock by 2020. I was named to form a group and lead that process and deliver that objective. In the one year since, I’ve been very pleased that we’ve put a visible dent in meeting the objective.
We’re growing awareness of our theme internally and have set up organizations on the recycling side in each global operating region. We’re working on a broad-based plan that touches all areas of our business—everything from operations to supply chains, technology and the ability to sort and purify different scrap types and inputs.
RT: So you’re happy with the results you’ve seen in year one?
DP: When we started this, our rate was 33 percent based on recycling inputs as of fiscal year 2011. In fiscal year 2012, we managed to increase that to 39 percent. We’re pleased with the initial progress. We feel very comfortable now that we have a good line of sight and a good, executable plan established to get us to at least 50 percent by 2015 and we’re still on our path to 80 percent by 2020.
RT: What are some of the potential barriers to 80-percent-recycled content and how can they be overcome?
DP: We’ve been working hard on increasing our operational capacity to consume recycled materials. In some places we just don’t have the equipment footprint to bring in significantly more recycled material, but we’ve dedicated a significant amount of our capital spend to increase that. For instance, there is a new recycling facility coming online in South Korea that is almost complete now—it will start up in September 2012. We’re making sheet ingot at that plant and bringing in beverage can scrap.
The announcement by Novelis Inc., Atlanta, that it is planning a dramatic shift to using 80 percent aluminum scrap as its feedstock involves some seriously large numbers.
Novelis, a $10 billion global leader in the metals production industry, says it has invested more than $1 billion in capital expansion investments.
The company’s approach to the goal has been made very public and is touted in several places on its website, including the Novelis 2011 Sustainability Report, found at www.novelis.com/en-us/
Novelis says its plan involves an “aggressive commitment to increase the amount of recycled metal used in its rolling operations to 80 percent by 2020.”
The company used 33 percent recycled aluminum in its products when it announced this target in 2011 and has recorded some progress by increasing its recycled content mark to 39 percent in the subsequent 12 months.
Because Novelis produces 3 million tons of rolled aluminum each year, that scrap consumption increase is already considerable. “This progress is already generating tremendous reductions in energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions,” the company says. “By reaching its ultimate goal, Novelis will eliminate 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the aluminum production chain. That reduces the carbon footprint of not only Novelis, but of its customers as well—a list that includes Coca Cola, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar/Land Rover, Samsung, LG and a host of other world-class consumer brands,” the company says.
– Brian Taylor
Another major facility is in the design phase and almost ready to start construction in eastern Germany. And a third one announced within the past year is in Brazil. We already have a recycling facility in Brazil but we’re approximately doubling capacity there. Both the German and the [new] Brazilian capacity should be online in 2014.
The Korean facility is similar to our sheet ingot plant in Berea, Ky. The basic design is similar, and, like Berea, the new plant in Korea is using primarily UBCs (used beverage containers) and process scrap from the can industry. The one in Europe has those same capabilities plus expanded capabilities.
We get most of our scrap today from the beverage can market—something like 65 percent. That market only represents a small percentage of the available global aluminum scrap market (maybe 15 percent). The challenge we have is to broaden our input base and buy more scrap from other markets, such as electrical wire and cable, extrusion scrap and automotive-type scrap.
We need some new technology and processing capability to be able to bring some of that scrap in. Novelis’ European facility can do that. It has been designed to be more flexible and multipurpose.
RT: Will UBCs remain an important part of the strategy?
DP: In North America, UBCs are in high demand. In other parts of the world, we can increase our market share. Our goal is to continue to grow our UBC inputs in Asia, South America and Europe. The beverage can market also is growing quickly in South America and in Asia.
The situation in North America is a little different. The beverage can market is more mature, and thus the generation of UBCs is not nearly as high.
RT: Is it your sense that aluminum producers, beverage makers and retailers in the United States are maintaining their historical reluctance to adopt deposit/return methods?
DP: We believe that a deposit system can be a very effective way to increase the recycling rate. Jurisdictions where these systems exist have a much higher recycling rate on average. Recycling rates in the deposit states are in the 70-to-80-percent range compared to a 30-to-40-percent range in nondeposit states. Deposit does work. The concern some of the stakeholders have about deposit is that it’s an expensive system. We think, though, that it can be one of a number of different ways to approach a problem.
Other options include what Florida is doing, involving framework legislation with performance-based incentives and targets.
Novelis is a member of the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) group. We’d like to see more participants/stakeholders from different industries (such as PET plastic, glass and haulers) become stakeholders in CVP.
RT: What can you say about Novelis’ future collection efforts for forms of aluminum scrap beyond UBCs?
DP: Those recycling rates are already very high.
One thing we’d like to do is to build capabilities to recycle materials where they are generated and then recycle them back into the same product. Closed-loop recycling is a very important model to us. It has been effective in turning cans back into can sheet.
Aluminum is growing as a material within cars. As the amount of aluminum in a vehicle grows, we’d like to establish the same kind of closed-loop thinking as exists in the can market.
As the automotive market has expanded for aluminum, this generates process scrap (prompt scrap). As automotive aluminum consumption grows, you’re generating a whole new loop. It’s kind of a key to our strategy.
Derek Prichett is vice president of global recycling for Atlanta-based Novelis, www.novelis.com.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012, a commemoration that received some of the attention at its national Wastecon event, held Aug. 14-16 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md.
Also receiving considerable attention were waste conversion technologies and waste-to-energy systems, which were the topic of technical sessions and exhibit hall sessions throughout the three-day event.
Picking up on the 2012 Wastecon theme of “Renewable and Sustainable Resources –Right in Your Back Yard,” attendees often filled the rooms of waste-to-energy related sessions and engaged in active question-and-answer periods after presentations.
Converting waste into energy is not revolutionary and has occurred for decades, but a series of presenters an Aug. 14 Wastecon session said a momentous shift in thinking and investment is about to revitalize this sector.
Harvey Gershman, a principal with waste and recycling consulting firm Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB, www.gbbinc.com), Fairfax, Va., offered an update of a presentation that he admitted the firm had been using for 10 years.
Gershman noted that the timetables on many waste conversion projects mentioned in his presentation have moved ahead in 2012. That list includes an Enerkem waste-to-energy plant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; the INEOS Bio plant in Vero Beach, Fla., now beginning to ramp up; and a Plasco Energy Group waste conversion facility in Salinas Valley, Calif.
Many of the current projects involve conversion technologies that are not necessarily proven on a large-volume scale, noted Gershman. He also noted, though, that at least one major “mass burn” plant is under construction in the Durham-York region of Ontario, Canada.
One major project on which the plug has been pulled was a planned waste-to-energy plant in Port St. Lucie, Fla., noted Gershman.
A Devilish Problem
Speaking to attendees of a workshop at the 2012 Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Wastecon event, held in August, Gareth Morton of United Kingdom-based AEA Technology noted that to parts of the general public, “God recycles [and] the devil burns.”
The “burning” aspect of this equation is used in reference to waste-to-energy projects, which no matter what technology they use seem invariably to be portrayed by opponents as smoke-spewing incinerators.
“Waste facilities are not popular neighbors,” said Morton, referring not only to waste-to-energy plants but also transfer stations, landfills and even recycling plants.
Morton said any sizable project such as a waste-to-energy plant involves public issues such as health, traffic flow, property values and environmental protection.Stakeholders, including solid waste officials, “can determine how much time they want to give” early on to addressing these issues, Morton said, but he recommended consultation with the public from an early stage, even if it necessitates significant changes to an initial plan. This approach, he said, is better than “decide and defend.”
Such public consultation is necessary in part, said Morton, because it’s a “fact of life [that] people no longer trust decision-makers.” Even when advance communication takes place, added Morton, the main causes of solid waste project delays are “local concerns and NIMBY (not in my backyard) activists.”
Morton gave an overview of a toolkit that AEA helped develop for project managers in Wales, where the country must rapidly build the infrastructure to meet a 70 percent landfill diversion target.
He said the toolkit “is not a new concept” but that, along with accompanying training, can prepare waste-to-energy or anaerobic digestion project backers with ways to tell their story and to prepare for opposition.
There are no short-cuts or secrets that can help a project proceed quietly, Morton indicated. “Community engagement can be expensive, but not engaging can be even more costly,” he stated.
The 2012 SWANA WasteCon event was held Aug. 14-16 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md.
Presenter Chris Koczaja of PHG Energy, La-Vergne, Tenn., described PHG’s gasification technology and provided an update on the company’s recent projects. He described PHG’s gasification systems as providing “scalable, clean energy for large and small projects and waste streams.”
The company is installing a system in cooperation with the City of Covington, Tenn., to convert biosolids and wood trimmings into power that will be used to run the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Presenter Dirk Andreas of Montreal-based Enerkem (www.enerkem.com) touted the benefits of his company’s ability to convert several forms of waste into transportation fuel. “We feel the thermo-dynamic path is better, because there are more options as far as what end products we can produce,” said Andreas.
He added that, unlike corn ethanol, using waste as a feedstock creates transportation fuel “that does not compete with food” while still “displacing our reliance on petroleum.”
Andreas said that if the estimated 140 million tons of MSW generated in the U.S. was converted to fuel, it would result in some 14 billion gallons of ethanol.
Enerkem is currently building a plant that will convert the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada’s unrecyclable MSW into fuel and also has large-scale plants under construction in Pontotoc, Miss., and Varennes, Quebec, Canada (near Montreal).
WM Keeps its Options Open
Waste Management Inc. (WM), Houston, may be one of the largest and most well-established waste and recycling companies in the U.S., but one of its top managers readily admitted that the company is not too old or too big to learn.
In a presentation at the 2012 Wastecon event, William Caesar, president of Waste Management Recycle America, said when it comes to waste-to-energy technologies, “Our intention is to learn . . . and then commercialize that technology [where] it makes sense.”
The company has made investments in more than a half-dozen waste conversion technology companies. Caesar said WM believes it is “advantageous to place a series of small bets instead of one big bet” in the waste-to-energy market.
The conversion technology companies in which WM has invested include:
- Enerkem, a thermo-chemical fuels and energy producer based in Montreal;
- Fulcrum Energy, Pleasanton, Calif., a waste-to-transportation fuel technology provider;
- Genomatica, a San Diego-based company with technology to convert waste to chemicals;
- Harvest Power, Waltham, Mass., a producer of anaerobic digestion and composting systems;
- Agilyx, Beaverton, Ore., a maker of plastic scrap-to-fuel systems; and
- InEnTec, Bend, Ore., a plasma arc gasification equipment maker.
Caesar indicated the portfolio of investments—as well as joint ventures with energy companies such as Valero, Total and Linde Gas—are helping WM spread out its waste-to-energy efforts to include several conversion technologies.
As the operator of 266 active landfills and the owner of closed landfills, WM also is focusing on landfill gas-to-energy systems.
When it comes to traditional mass-burn waste-to-energy plants, in which WM has a presence at 17 locations in part because of its Wheelabrator Technologies subsidiary, Caesar said, “All things being equal, I think we’ll see less incineration [in the future] because there will be technologies that will be less expensive and bring more value.”
Caesar also remarked on WM’s ongoing investment in materials recycling, including its operation of 95 material recovery facilities (MRFs) and a considerable recycling collection fleet.
He described himself as “a proponent of single-stream,” but when asked indicated that he did not necessarily see an evolution toward mixed waste processing facilities, or “dirty MRFs.” Said Caesar, “There is still value in that first separation. Somebody pays me for that relatively clean commodity. I would rather maintain two truck routes because of the value of this relatively clean material.” Referring to additional source separation, Caesar added, “I don’t want to go to nine trucks, but I’ll keep two.”
Rewards Following the Risks
Building a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility can be risky both financially and politically, but once they are in place they can gain rapid acceptance, according to three presenters at an Aug. 14 Wastecon event.
At a session titled “Implementing WTE to Green Your System,” three different speakers offered comments on both how energy-from-waste plants can gain approval and their value to a city or waste district once they are in place.
Sarah Garvan of the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF), New Rochelle, N.Y., provided an overview of how that county’s waste-to-energy plant has been a vital part of its solid waste and recycling strategy since 1984.
Garvan commented that Westchester County has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that its WTE plant has not supplanted recycling. Currently, Westchester County has a 52 percent recycling rate, well above the 33 percent U.S. average and 36 percent New York state average, according to Garvan.
The DEF as well as most of the county’s 940,000 residents support “a continued investment in recycling,” said Garvan, who noted that the county is constantly adding to the materials mix it collects for recycling and also tickets residents when recyclable material is found in their garbage containers.
While Westchester County considers its WTE plant to be “part of the reduce, re-use, recycle paradigm,” Garvan said the 52 percent recycling rate sends the message, “We don’t burn all our trash.”
Presenter John Foden of Toronto-based public relations firm PresterJohn serves as executive director of the Canadian Energy-from-Waste Coalition, which has helped counteract what can often be vocal opposition to waste-to-energy projects in that nation.
Foden said that while his organization can help, for a WTE project to be built, a “political champion,” such as a mayor or city council person who will “not be overwhelmed by vocal opponents” and who is willing to take risks and speak clearly in favor of the project, is needed.
He urged WTE project planners to provide their political champions with information that is technical enough to point out inaccuracies in what opponents might claim but yet can be communicated easily “to eighth graders in a church basement.”
Foden said project planners should expect early public meetings “to be, honestly, horrible,” as the loudest, most demonstrative opponents seek to attract media attention and to influence voters. “The sensationalizing will eventually run its course,” he advised.
He added that WTE project planners should always be available to meet with the media and to present their side. He suggested that telephone polling could be an effective way to find out what percentage of the population in a community is genuinely either opposed to or supportive of a project.
Gareth Morton of United Kingdom-based AEA Technology (www.aeat.co.uk) offered a presentation prepared by his colleague Adam Read on how mechanical biological treatment (MBT) methods have been able to gain greater acceptance in the U.K. compared with energy recovery methods perceived as combustion or incineration.
Implementing either MBT or WTE technologies is critical in the U.K., where a series of directives and targets is in play to discourage landfilling, he said. The country’s waste districts “need to identify and invest in bankable solutions,” Morton added.
MBT systems, involving separation, composting and anaerobic digestion technologies, have a green image and “are seen as politically acceptable,” Morton said, while WTE technologies are commonly painted as “incinerators” and are usually vigorously opposed by environmentalist activists.
Of concern, Morton said, is that MBT methods can only treat segments of the waste stream and they are most effective with “a relatively consistent feedstock.” He said he was wary of “white elephants” being built in this category while more all-encompassing WTE systems are delayed because of vocal opposition from the community.
The author is editorial director and association publisher of the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at email@example.com. This article first appeared in the fall issue of Recycling Today’s sister publication Renewable Energy from Waste.