Why waste-to-energy municipal solid waste management is good public policy

David A. Elsperger

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that municipal solid waste totaled 262 million tons in 2015, up 26 percent from 1990. Reducing, reusing and recycling are proven methods to cut the amount of municipal solid waste, but a significant quantity is sent to landfills every year. Modern incineration technology can dramatically reduce the amount of municipal solid waste that needs to be landfilled and also generate electrical energy for nearby residents. The charts below show trends in municipal solid waste from 1960 to 2015, as reported by the EPA. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization reports that food is the largest component of materials sent to landfills and the primary source of landfill gas.