Last fall, a panel discussion co-hosted by ACC and the LA Chamber of Commerce showcased emerging technologies that can convert waste into energy. Focusing on ways that state and local lawmakers can encourage new investment in these technologies, the event included participation by many local business leaders and waste management experts, including representatives from CalRecycle, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, and Waste Management.
Fast forward a few months – interest is growing. CalRecycle (California’s Department of Resources Recycling) has just announced a full workshop to explore the topic. According to CalRecycle, the April 29 workshop (Thermal Resource Recovery: A Pathway to the Highest and Best Use of Residuals) will focus on “the recovery of energy, fuels and chemicals from solid waste residuals that cannot be recycled.” CalRecycle says it will be the first in a series of public meetings focused on the benefits of energy recovery and the importance of holistic, smart solid waste regulations.
Despite increased recycling in California as part of the state’s goal to divert 75 percent of the state’s waste stream, tons of non-recycled wastes are buried in landfills every day – wasting a valuable potential energy source.
Next month’s forum will focus on the potential to transform these non-recycled plastics and other wastes into alternative energy and address “longstanding concerns regarding the multiple barriers” to siting facilities that could convert waste into energy and fuels to eventually power homes, businesses, and transportation.
Energy recovery is a key part of an integrated, holistic waste management plan, and an essential complement to California’s increased recycling efforts. Policy makers should encourage policies that maximize recycling, and then encourage energy recovery, by
- Recognizing non-recycled materials that are converted to energy or used to manufacture fuels as part of California’s plan to recover 75 percent of the state’s waste.
- Regulating material destined to be used for manufactured fuel as raw material and not solid waste.
- Developing standards to ensure that manufactured fuels and energy derived from wastes delivers an equivalent or better emissions profile than the traditional fuels they replace.