American Recycler – Embracing Innovations in Waste and Recycling Management

Technological innovations and technically-advanced processes are fast becoming the core backbone of today’s waste and recycling industries.

Technology Innovations & Landfills

One area of the waste management industry that has received increased focus is within the landfill environment – specifically as it relates to the transformation of landfills and landfill gas. There has been a shift in focus from the use of landfill gas as fuel to create electricity in favor of using it as a raw feedstock to create Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).

One of the biggest challenges faced by waste management companies today is how they present themselves as “green” and environmentally friendly, especially in a political climate that has made sustainability a cornerstone of the new administration’s agenda.

“By voluntarily implementing RNG projects, waste management companies are able to show the local communities how they are materially impacting the environment in a positive way,” said Michael Bakas, executive vice president at Ameresco. “This voluntary act will go a long way with local governments, permitting agency and the community.

This RNG technology being utilized within landfills is a more efficient use of the renewable fuel and has an effective way to decarbonize the natural gas grid and the traditional use of natural gas as well as the transportation sector,” Bakas said. “We’re also seeing a push to organics from landfills, especially in more progressive states, which increase the cost of disposal, create a need to find ways to safely treat this waste and will negatively impact the generation of landfill gas at the landfills.” Ameresco is a leading, diverse clean technology integrator with a comprehensive portfolio of energy efficiency and renewable energy supply solutions.

In general, the U.S. has experienced a tremendous amount of focus by many on “going green” initiatives. The move toward a low-carbon economy continues to gain momentum. Primarily state policymakers are working to formulate a comprehensive U.S. energy policy that addresses climate change, security of supply and affordability within a framework that supports the transition to a low-carbon future.

As Bakas explained, business leaders are considering sustainable growth strategies and integrating sustainability in the way they manage their businesses.

“Corporations bought a record amount of clean energy in 2019 – up more than 40 percent from the previous year’s record with most of this purchasing occurring in the U.S. In addition, many organizations are being pushed to address their carbon risk exposure by shareholders,” Bakas said.

But, with great progress made addressing the “electric side” of the carbon footprint, organizations are now turning to the thermal side of the equation. This is where the benefits of RNG come into play.

“RNG is an ultra-clean and ultra-low carbon natural gas alternative that can help end users reduce their Scope 1 Emissions on a one-for-one basis –something that most other renewable fuels cannot do for the thermal side,” Bakas said. “Given the Biden Administration’s interest in hydrogen and carbon sequestration, it would seem logical that visibility into this market will drive investment into advancing technology in order to spur the growth in this sector – possibly using renewable natural gas as feedstock for these projects.

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