Researchers Plan Comprehensive Study of Waste-to-Energy v. Landfill

With waste-to-energy technology taking a front seat in the effort to deal with municipal waste in growing regions, some question whether these processing facilities aren’t doing more harm to the environment than good. Researchers at the University of Buffalo are planning to address that concern with what it says will be one of the most comprehensive and quantitative comparisons between municipal waste combustion and landfilling ever completed.

The University at Buffalo said it is partnering with Covanta to study the company’s Niagara Resource Recovery Facility, which turns municipal solid waste into steam and electricity.

A research team from the University of Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and the RENEW Institute will independently quantify the facility’s environmental and economic impacts on the Buffalo Niagara region and compare it to landfilling.

The team will consider everything from waste collection, processing and transport to the combustion process, including greenhouse gas emissions, metals recovery, ash management and steam generation.

“The team at the University of Buffalo brings a great interdisciplinary approach to environmental engineering with unique expertise focusing on complex energy and environmental issues,” Kevin O’Neil, Covanta Niagara business manager, said in a statement. “We are very pleased to have them engaged on this project to be better understand the benefits and impacts of the Covanta Niagara facility.”

The University of Buffalo said that it expects the study to be completed later this year and published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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