To burn or not to burn?

Many companies nowadays are figuring out new and eco-friendly ways to remove waste. However, some people, as mentioned in the article, “Incinerators vs Zero Waste: Energy and the Climate,” thinks that this is called “greenwashing.” They believe that incinerator and landfill industries are making a profit from the climate crisis by making renewable energy by “greenwashing” trash. Incinerating, instead of recycling, is bad for the environment even though companies like KiOR, in the article, “Alternative Fuels’ Long-Delayed Promise Might Be Near Fruition,” states that it’s good for the environment. They have developed a way to mix shredded wood waste to generate fuel.

KiOR states that their fuel made from burning the waste will release one-sixth the amount of carbon dioxide than the other fuels burned. However, GAIA states that by just burning these materials, it releases high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and wastes energy too.

Companies like Ineos, a European oil and chemical company, is making a plant in Florida that would burn wood and woody garbage that breaks into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These molecules will be turned and used to make ethanol. The company spent about $130 million on the pant and it’s supposed to make eight million gallons a year, which is only about 1 percent of Florida’s demand.

So the question is, do you think that it incinerating is a good thing or bad for the environment? Do you think companies really are trying to help the environment or just put money in their pockets? Do you think that these companies are profitable or useful considering the amount of money that are used in making it and the amount of energy they produce?

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3 Responses to To burn or not to burn?

  1. Sifan Shen says:

    Incinerating is bad for the environment. Wood should be recycled at the first place. When KiOR generates fuel by burning shredded wood, a great amount of energy is lost. This is “greenwashing” because biomass is harnessed through burning instead of via bacteria and acid. Companies like KiOR will keep practicing “greenwashing” as long as greenwashing is profitable. In theory, companies should spend money to properly dispose garbage and recycle materials; however, they receive large sum of subsidy from government through lobbying politicians.

  2. Thomas Seubert says:

    There is definitely “greenwashing” going on here. Less emissions means that gases are still being released into the environment. Though these technologies seem to be a way to lessen the blow our gas driven lives have on the environment. To say this is all about money making is fair, but that statement shouldn’t be tweaked with a condescending tone. The U.S. employs a free market economy. Without monetary motivation, there won’t be innovation.

  3. Michelle says:

    I feel like the use of the word “greenwashing” is a little too liberal. While there’s no arguing that companies are still engaging in practices that are not good for the environment, I am sure that both the government and rational consumers are aware of this fact. As Tom mentioned, the U.S. does employ a free market economy and the market does favor “greenwashing” over green practices. Big companies are under no immediate threat of regulation at this point because they are the biggest drivers of the economy. The real question, in my opinion, is should the government be seeking tighter regulation on such companies? I think it’s not realistic at this point in time and the sad truth is it probably won’t happen until we are faced with immediate environmental catastrophe.

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