Waste-To-Energy: What Works and What Doesn’t

The article titled, “Incinerators vs. Zero Waste” points out how waste companies in the incinerator and landfill industries have been gaining access to certain subsidies by “greenwashing’ [their methods of] waste disposal “as a source of clean and renewable energy around the globe.” Yet in reality, these methods of waste management can release more greenhouse gases – like CO2 and methane – into the atmosphere than powerplant.

At the same time, Matthew Wald’s article highlighted several companies who have received federal incentives in order to further develop and commercialize their methods of producing alternative fuels from agricultural and wood waste. The article argues that commercial production of these alternative biofuels could be “a major milestone in renewable energy.” Furthermore, energy experts maintain that, “eventually renewable motor fuel could have a much bigger impact on the United States economy than renewable electricity from wind farms or solar cells.”

With that being said, there have been many other breakthroughs in alternative methods of waste management – Does this method sound more or less promising and do you think that the commercialization of this process will finally break the “long string of overly optimistic promises made by the industry and government?”

Another thought: this method of producing alternative biofuels seems like it is currently limited to wood waste. In that case, do these companies deserve more government support and financial incentives? Or should the government also focus on other problems, like putting a stop to incinerating and landfilling organic waste?

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