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Addicted to Convenience


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Is it smart to generate power at any cost, or are we sacrificing our organics to feed an energy addiction when composting makes more economic and environmental sense?

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Addicted to Convenience

  1. 1. ADDICTED to convenience What fate awaits composting in an energy-mad world?
  2. 2. Should the generation of energy take priority over common sense?
  3. 3. Energy-generating add-ons to landfills (LFGE) and incinerators are pushed as “waste-to- energy” (WTE) solutions for organic waste.
  4. 4. And taxpayers buy it,
  5. 5. even though, for organics, WTE costs more, uses more energy than it generates, and …
  6. 6. does not return organic matter to the soil to complete the recycling loop.
  7. 7. Is the First World so addicted to convenience that we accept energy generation at any cost?
  8. 8. Does composting have a future in a power-hungry world?
  9. 9. Humans prospered on this planet for millennia without centralized electric utilities.
  10. 10. We’ve only had access to electricity as a service for about 130 years.
  11. 11. But in that short time, we’ve become addicted to its convenience.
  12. 12. Where does that leave composting?
  13. 13. Fighting for feedstocks.
  14. 14. Composting competes with landfills and incinerators for organic waste,
  15. 15. which makes up 40-60% of a typical municipal waste stream ...
  16. 16. and a big slice of landfill and WTE revenue.
  17. 17. WTE technologies, developed and marketed as “sustainable” energy, help traditional disposal hold on to this income.
  18. 18. But landfills and waste-to-energy are NOT sustainable systems for biodegradable material,
  19. 19. because they do not return organic matter to the soil.
  20. 20. This includes anaerobic digestion (AD) without composting or other soil- regenerative digestate use.
  21. 21. The critical need for organic matter recycling is hidden by energy generation’s shadow ...
  22. 22. even though biomass is one of the most expensive ways to generate power.
  23. 23. It costs more per MWh than advanced nuclear.
  24. 24. IT’S A FACT: For many metro areas, composting organics at a modern, high-rate commercial facility can be more economical than burning or burial.
  25. 25. But addiction isn’t rational or logical.
  26. 26. Whether the “drug” is opium, sugar, or electricity…
  27. 27. an addict’s gotta have it.
  28. 28. But if all MSW biodegradables were source-separated and composted,
  29. 29. that compost could add more than 600 billion gallons of water-holding capacity to soils…
  30. 30. and sequester millions of tons of carbon more economically than any other technology.
  31. 31. In the U.S., the potential savings in stormwater management and treatment alone …
  32. 32. could solar power all households in California, Texas, and most of Florida.
  33. 33. So, is energy generation from organics via LFGE and WTE really the way to go?
  34. 34. Is it wise to generate power so foolishly?
  35. 35. Let’s break free of our addiction to energy at any cost.
  36. 36. Don’t burn or bury organics. Instead …
  37. 37. use them to rebuild soil.
  38. 38. Improve soil percolation, reduce erosion, and stop polluted runoff.
  39. 39. Fight climate change by storing more carbon in soil.
  40. 40. Just say NO to WTE destruction or landfill burial of organics,
  41. 41. and say YES to composting and compost use.
  42. 42. Learn more Read the article: Addicted to convenience – what fate awaits composting in an energy-mad world? Review the March 2018 report from the U.S. Energy Administration comparing costs for energy-generation technologies and a new report on the State of Organic Waste Management in North America with non-EPA generation estimates Read about costs and power generation related to establishing 1MW solar farms Production costs for this title were underwritten by McGill. Its use is permitted for educational purposes if presented in its entirety and without editing or other alteration. ©McGill Environmental Systems of N.C. Inc. Questions? Call McGill HQ at 919-362-1161 or use a contact form at Transforming waste. Rebuilding soils.®