The Heap
It's a Gas?

It's a Gas?


Casella Waste Systems is attempting to launch a pilot project at a Ontario County, N.Y., landfill that would convert non-recyclable trash into a liquid fuel for vehicles. That's according to this report in the Daily Messenger newspaper.

From the article:

For the county, there are potential risks and rewards. If tons of garbage can get diverted from the landfill, it could stay open longer, postponing the need for another landfill, said Supervisor David Baker, D-city of Canandaigua, chairman of the Ontario County Solid Waste Management Committee. And if the process works, it could also mean fuel for county vehicles.

But the technology is not proven on a commercial scale. Thus the reason Casella plans to begin it as a pilot project. If it works, conversion to a full-scale commercial operation would require Casella to make a $100 million investment. For the county, the question is: Does Casella have the financial wherewithal to do that? After all, the county is counting on Casella to make lease payments on the landfill and to pay for a planned $7 million sewer line from the landfill to Geneva.

Environmentalists also have concerns about what kind of trash Casella would use, whether the process will pollute the air and whether the resulting ash would be safe to bury in the landfill.

Casella is still awaiting two permits from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation that are necessary to launch the pilot project. An official with the company estimates that the waste-to-fuel project could eventually create up 50 to 75 "high-paying jobs," according to the Daily Messenger.

What's your take on such a project?