The Fresh Kills landfill on New York City’s Staten Island was the largest landfill in the world when it was closed in March 2001. It was briefly reopened to receive about a third of the rubble created by the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. As the final destination for all of New York City’s residential solid waste, Fresh Kills received 29,000 tons of trash daily at its peak.
New York City generates 14 million tons of trash each year. With Fresh Kills closed, where does it go now? Costly to transport, much of the city’s solid waste finds its way upstate. The Seneca Meadows landfill in Seneca County and the High Acres landfill in Monroe County are both open to receiving New York City’s trash.
A newly formed Rochester company, Circular enerG LLC, is proposing an alternative to landfill disposal. It wants to build a waste-to-energy incinerator in the town of Romulus at a site in the former Seneca Army Depot.
In today’s Up for Debate, we present two opposing views on the problem of solid waste disposal and the Circular enerG proposal. (See, too, my recent post on the plastics recycling market and the consequences of China’s decision to close its doors to much of the United States’ plastic waste.)
Why waste-to-energy is good public policy
By David Elsperger
Using existing WtE technology, the proposed plant at the former Seneca Army Depot site in Romulus would provide low-emission electrical power and promote economic development.
Our region can do better than incinerating NYC trash
By Michael Warren Thomas
Burning garbage is not the solution to the waste management challenges of the 21st century. It is relatively dirty, and an inefficient method of producing energy.