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Boston’s ‘FutureStructure’ Summit Highlights Energy Value in Waste Stream
WASHINGTON (August 28, 2014) – State and local policymakers gathered in Boston today for GOVERNING Magazine’s FutureStructure Summit to discuss trends in waste, water and energy. The event highlighted growing interest in the potential of energy recovery and how communities can expand investment in technologies that use waste as a valuable energy resource.
Chad Vander Veen, FutureStructure’s editor, moderated a panel on ways in which a community’s waste stream can be a viable and valuable commodity for domestic energy. Speakers on the panel included Dr. Fred Beach, Assistant Director at the University of Texas’ Energy Institute, and Michigan State Representative Aric Nesbitt. Nesbitt recently introduced legislation to expand opportunities for energy recovery in Michigan.
“There have been a lot of changes in the North American energy market, and the area of energy recovery is one of the most exciting,” said Nesbitt, who encouraged state and local leaders to update solid waste laws and regulations to ensure better use of non-recycled materials in the wastestream.
The American Chemistry Council was a sponsor of the GOVERNING Magazine summit.
“GOVERNING’s FutureStructure Summit is a valuable opportunity to inform state and local policymakers about the importance of modernizing laws to ensure that municipal solid waste and non-recycled plastics are covered as renewable energy sources,” said Craig Cookson, director of sustainability & recycling for the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division. “The dialogue with policymakers was a valuable opportunity to discuss reducing landfilling, increasing recycling, and generating new forms of alternative energy.”
A report released earlier this year by the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) of Columbia University found that if the United States had the capacity to divert all of the municipal solid waste that was landfilled in 2011 to waste-to-energy facilities, it could generate enough electricity to supply about 13.8 million households, which represents 12% of the entire United States. If just the non-recycled plastics in solid waste were to be converted through today’s plastics-to-oil technologies, it could produce 135 million barrels of oil per year – or 5.7 billion gallons of gasoline, enough to fuel 8.9 million cars.
To learn more about the “From Chemistry to Energy” campaign, please visit ChemistryToEnergy.com. Join the conversation on Twitter using #Chemistry2Energy and follow campaign updates at @AmChemistry and blog.americanchemistry.com.