MORRISTOWN, N.J., April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That well-known "3R" mantra has become synonymous with being environmentally-conscious, however, most people fail to recognize the fourth "R" – RECOVER. This Earth Day, April 22, Covanta Energy (www.covantaenergy.com) is asking consumers and businesses to take a closer look at the waste they generate and to understand the importance of following all FOUR "Rs." "Making small, intelligent changes to the way we manage and generate waste can have a huge impact on the health of our planet and communities," commented Paul Gilman, Ph.D., chief sustainability officer at Covanta Energy.
When we reduce and reuse we conserve the Earth's resources and save money. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Recovering energy from residual waste left over after those efforts sustains the planet in a number of important ways. Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities, also referred to as waste-to-energy, offset greenhouse gases and produce much needed renewable energy; reduce landfill use which preserves open space; protect the environment by employing state-of-the-art equipment and systems; and maximize recycling and the reuse of resources. Communities with EfW facilities typically have higher rates of recycling and consequently lower greenhouse gas emissions while using less energy attributable to waste management practices.
The waste hierarchy recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and European Union states that after recycling, trash should be processed at modern EfW facilities to recover energy before landfilling. Landfills are one of the largest man-made emitters of methane—a greenhouse gas more than 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide. Yet, despite this important fact, over 250 million tons, or 69%, of the waste generated in the U.S. is sent to landfills, while only 7% is managed by EfW.
"Landfills in the United States have long been the primary disposal option for municipalities," observed Gilman. "If the country changed its 'business as usual' practices and adopted sustainable waste management focused on increased recycling, energy-from-waste for what's left over and landfill only as a last resort, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to shutting down over 50 coal-fired power plants and saving the energy equivalent to 10% of our imported oil."
Covanta operates 44 Energy-from-Waste facilities for communities worldwide. These facilities collectively process 20 million tons of waste per year, recycle over 400,000 tons of metals and generate nine million megawatt hours of electricity. The annual greenhouse gas emissions offset from Covanta's operations are the equivalent of planting 460 million tree seedlings.
Covanta Energy is an internationally recognized owner and operator of large-scale Energy-from-Waste and renewable energy projects and a recipient of the Energy Innovator Award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Covanta's 44 Energy-from-Waste facilities provide communities with an environmentally sound solution to their solid waste disposal needs by using that municipal solid waste to generate clean, renewable energy. Annually, Covanta's modern Energy-from-Waste facilities safely and securely convert 20 million tons of waste into 9 million megawatt hours of clean renewable electricity and create more than 9 billion pounds of steam that are sold to a variety of industries. For more information, visit covantaenergy.com.
SOURCE Covanta Energy