Less trash would be the real treasure
By Tim Stevens
The May 15 Metro article “D.C.’s trash becomes Fairfax facility’s treasure” suggested a marriage of convenience between those who produce trash and those who need it to feed incinerators. But it overlooked some serious environmental impacts for which better solutions exist.
To keep the waste-to-energy plants working, the plant operators have to actively seek trash. This contributes to a mind-set that diminishes the importance of recycling. It also plays down the importance of reducing trash generation in the first place by reducing excessive packaging and unnecessary purchases.
Labor unions such as the Teamsters prefer recycling because it produces more jobs than incinerator plants.
The incinerator plants also produce carbon dioxide, perhaps as much as coal-burning power plants. These plants require lots of upfront capital to build, with the funding usually involving taxpayer subsidies. The electricity produced by these types of plants and sold to utility companies can be used to fulfill their “renewable” energy requirements (crowding out purchases of wind or solar power).
Better to focus on minimizing trash than on optimizing its disposal.
| May 19, 2010; 7:40 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Virginia, environment
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