How Trash Becomes Energy
Did you know that landfills with gas collection systems can recycle nearly 25% of the material deposited in the landfill? That makes landfills some of the largest recycling operations in the U.S. Here is the best part. The gas created and captured is reused for energy transformation! Finley Buttes Landfill, operated by Waste Connections, is harvesting gas emissions as a renewable energy source for electricity and heat. The twelve-year-old sustainability initiative curtails carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. That represents a reduction in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions equal to more than 43,000 barrels of oil consumed. As organic waste breaks down in municipal solid waste landfills, methane gas is created. Landfill methane is normally consumed (incinerated) in a flare that gives off carbon dioxide.
To create renewable energy, a vast majority of the landfills’ methane gas is harvested through a perforated piping system of over 100 vertical and horizontal extraction wells and high-density polyethylene piping. Managed by Finley BioEnergy, the gas is routed to suitable energy recovery systems or combustion devices. The CHP (Combined Heat and Power) system allows for the sale of 25 million kilowatts per year to the local utility, Pacific Corp and over 45,000 therms (heat)/month to Cascade Specialities, a local food processing plant. The renewable energy provides the plant with energy savings. The system helps meet Oregon state requirements for renewal energy and the EPA’s requirements for greenhouse gas reductions. It’s a constant source of power that is running all the time, making Waste Connections-Finley Buttes Landfill a good neighbor and good environmental steward in the community.