Industrial Waste: The Silent Landfill Giant

Industrial waste is filling up landfills

We all know that landfills are not going to be around forever. They are quickly filling up and our country is running out places to put our waste. Facts on consumer waste is easy to find. The average person produces 5.91 pounds of waste daily, which adds up to a whopping 250 million tons  per year of waste in the US alone.

However, what is not included in these numbers is how much waste is being produced by all the manufacturing and industrial companies. The EPA specifies that it does not count these types of wastes in their numbers. It is estimated that in the US, industrial and manufacturing waste is equal to consumer waste, 265 million tons per year. These numbers can feel overwhelming but we can do something about it.

Dealing with industrial waste at the source

How do we keep this type of waste out of the landfills? The answer is easy. Disrupt the flow of waste into the landfills. Encourage these companies to begin utilizing onsite waste management. Waste is much easier to use responsibly when it is not mixed with in-organics and consumer waste. Waste streams directly from the manufacturer can be converted into heat and electricity. This can be accomplished through downdraft gasification.

What is gasification?

Gasification is the process of converting organic materials (anything containing carbon) into a gas form known as Syngas or Producer Gas. Gasification has been around for hundreds of years. Initially developed to produce town gas for lighting and cooking in the 1800s, this was replaced by electricity and natural gas. Popularity of this process re-emerged during the World Wars when isolationism and fuel shortages became prevalent. Wood was the prevalent feedstock and by 1945, a large percentage of trucks, buses and other machines were fueled by gasification in Europe.

What waste can be used to power a gasification system?

A variety of waste streams from industrial and manufacturing processes can easily be converted into renewable energy. For example:

  • Factories
    • Shipping materials, organic process byproducts
  • Mining
    • wood, cartons, packages, food waste, plastics, rubber
  • Textile mills
    • fabrics, thread, shipping materials, packaging
  • Food manufacturing
    • food waste, packaging, contaminated cardboard, shipping materials

Studies show that there is ample waste viable for heat and energy conversion. A study of food manufacturers reported total food waste at over 10.6 billion pounds of food waste. Textile waste has been reported to top 15.1 million tons.

Gasification helps companies, consumers and the environment

Gasification can help in so many ways. It creates a type of trickle down effect. Companies save money by processing their waste on site. This cuts down on tipping fees and aids in utility cost reduction from the heat and energy they produce. Consumers benefit from this because the cost savings may be passed down in lowered pricing. And most importantly, the environment benefits from interrupting the waste stream to the landfill. This means harmful toxins are not being leached into the earth and greenhouse gas emissions are lessened considerably.

Learn more about how gasification can help.