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Waste Management Recycling Waste 2 Energy

Waste Management was featured in a Fast Company  post focusing on turning non recyclable waste into energy. Makes sense.
WM is the largest waste collection company in North America. CEO David Steiner estimates that WM handles about 10 billion dollars worth of materials a year. That’s not much less than WM’s total revenues  each year. How can WM manage that waste to maximize value for the company and the planet?

As the article points out, ” What might look like trash is actually just natural gas in solid form–and because Waste Management owns a lot of trash, it owns a lot of natural gas. The company is investing heavily in companies that can help it go from a trash company to a trash-and-energy company.”

Einstein was right- energy is matter and vice-versa. WM is investing in companies like Agnion Energy, that turn trash into synthetic gas that can be used in heating. WM already operates over 100 landfill gas plants, and has invested in other technologies to capture, convert, and extract energy from matter..But Agnion’s innovation is a small-scale device that allows for local, onsite gasification at a lower cost. As the post points out, “This means that hospitals, shopping malls, and every other building or institution that collects large amounts of waste–like Waste Management–can get high-quality gas out of straight-up garbage.”

With enterprises that are making transportation fuels, crude oil, biodiesel and other energy sources, and with the largest recycling operation in North America, WM might be rightly named Resource Management. Waste Management has “cornered the market” on waste- and it’s set to be a real player in energy as well.

About godsdoghowls

I'm Senior Manager for Community Engagement and Development at Greenopolis.com; a hunter and naturalist, rabbinic student and maple sugar maker, husband of Sara and father of 5 terrific children.


7 thoughts on “Waste Management Recycling Waste 2 Energy

  1. “Einstein was right- energy is matter and vice-versa.”

    Einstein was right but energy-mass equivalence (Energy = mass * speed of light^2) but what he meant by that is not the same as “turning matter into energy.” The process of taking plastic, trash, hydrocarbons, and organic matter and creating energy from that is related to thermodynamics – not energy-mass equivalence.

    Posted by Jason | June 20, 2011, 6:09 pm
  2. Now we are moving forward! Obama releases America’s ‘reserve oil” to control rising oil prices, a futility at best in the face of burgeoning Asian demands for oil, paying high premiums with good strong, unmanipulated Yuan. Sewage is next. Oslo, capital city of Norway, processes cities humanure into methane gas, used to fuel city buses, then makes safe effective top soil building fertilizers from the sludge left over, for local fields. Even San Antonio, Texas does a variation on this, and apparently Sweden’s buses run on sewage derived methane too! Time for America to play ‘Catch-Up” isn’t it!
    The Oil Crunch has arrived, the U.S. financial crisis is upon us, the fed’s print money night and day, the economy threatens collapse without a further ‘Q3 easing’, and Obama stands close to another tumultuous election campaign. Waste management has never had it so good! They only need to whisper into Obama’s ear for huge funding grants! Question is: Will Americans cut back on consumption, spending, even to save their nation? I doubt it. Waste management, recycling, recovery of discarded resource flows, such as humanure – all so ‘Un-American’, not brash, not fighting back, not boldly strutting forward! Not likely to gain popularity at all, even though it is so practiced in most other countries! Will America default to “entitlement arrogance and fail in the 21st century, fall flat on her pretty face in front of a communist China, a growing Asia? It certainly looks that way from here, in Alberta’s Tar Sands! Hell we will sell more oil for more money to China than the U.S., based on “ability to pay” alone, in the next few decades!
    Can solid goods in garbage be recovered profitably ? Aluminum cans? Plastics? Paper? Metals? Or must we go the garbage to Producer Gas route from the get go? Diagram doesn’t show the great sorting tables, the recovery part of the process in my home-town. What of the kindly folks that separate their household garbage at home even before pick-up? All for naught? Apparently Japan has a quite rigorous ans profitable system up and running?

    Posted by Bruce Miller | June 24, 2011, 4:33 pm
  3. Very good read, hopefully the figure out a clean way to do this.

    Posted by Dave Bohr | June 29, 2011, 3:13 pm
    • There is NO clean way to to BURN trash.

      Posted by George Norwell | July 5, 2011, 3:11 pm
      • Simply not true George. State of the art systems recover the energy in otherwise unrecyclable materials with very low emissions. This is widely used in Denmark and many environmentally advanced countries. This is not your Grandpa’s incinerator of old. Obviously, the best thing is to reduce, reuse recycle, but for the material stream left after that, extracting the energy is better than just land-filling in many cases..

        Posted by greenopolisjoe | July 5, 2011, 3:42 pm

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