Landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) facilities turn landfills – and our daily waste – into a source of clean, renewable energy. According to the EPA, there were 480 operational LFGTE programs in the U.S. as of December 2008. These generate about 12 megawatts of electricity per year – for reference, the average power consumption of a typical American household over the course of a year is about 8,900 kilowatt-hours. Waste Management alone hosts LFGTE projects at more than 100 of its landfills, with the goal to develop an additional 60 projects by 2013. In expanding these projects, Waste Management will produce enough landfill gas to generate 700 megawatts of energy, enough to power nearly 700,000 homes.
The more we can do with less, the better, and energy creation is likely just one of many reasons I think this century will find us looking to our landfills for more and more resources. Right now, America has unfathomable amounts of wood, metals and who knows what else buried away in our landfills.
I remember when precious metals prices were going through the roof last year, and people were stealing the copper caps on top of the wood fence in front of our house, copper wiring from irrigation systems, and other such items that have always been safe in public.
It was at that point that I foresaw landfill mining as a future industry. Does anybody know of any companies that do this yet? Does anyone else predict that companies like Waste Management will eventually start to mine their landfills for metals and other resources that become rare outside of landfills?
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