Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 21, May 26, 2015 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

The waste management authority responsible for the seven boroughs in the north end of London has decided that after recycling everything they can think of, they will still have enough crud at the bottom of the bucket to fuel a new £500m energy recovery facility. They will incinerate (oh, my) the stuff that is left over after all the food waste, paper, plastic bottles, and glass containers have been picked out of their trash. By 2050, the new system will be converting around 700,000 tonnes per year of that non-recyclable garbage to provide both electricity and district heating. Let’s put this decision in context.

We think society can, or at least should , recycle 100% of the stuff that gets thrown away. In resource management as in Life, the goal is to always look for the Highest and Best Use. Most developed countries by now have established a Waste Management Hierarchy to indicate these priorities. Arguably, it is best to not make that trash in the first place, so at the top of that hierarchy, we must Reduce how much we discard. Don’t buy more than you need; use what you can as long as possible. But if you really are done with that whats-it, maybe you or somebody else can simply clean it up some and find something else to do with it. If we think about it,  we can Re-Use a lot of things for a secondary purpose.

Below that re-use priority in the hierarchy comes Recycle, and this is where confusion enters. Recycling is recovery of the basic materials that make up that discard. Recycling accomplishes reclamation of the molecules, or “molecular recovery”. We collect. We sort, clean and separate. Then we take the discrete types of stuff down to its basics, taken apart even to the molecular level, and get those foundation parts ready to be used as the raw material for re-manufacturing.

The Highest and Best Use hierarchy has a built-in caveat: if you can’t accomplish the top level, you drop down to the next one. If the tools are simply not technically available and/or economically accessible to take a particular type of discarded crud apart to foundation chemicals, you do the next best thing. If you can’t accomplish recycling, then you Recover the energy inherent in that “feedstock”. Right now incineration is the most common method of last-gasp energy recovery from trash, and although maybe you can find other methods to accomplish this same energy recovery alternative, you seldom do so at less cost. Tightly controlled combustion “renders to ash”: it destroys the chance to reclaim those precious molecules. But the big burners, the Energy from Waste plants, are our current stop-gap, and are in truth, the last best available alternative to Disposal in a big leaky, stinking pit.

London rolls the dice and plans a massive Burner, hoping to stop or at least drastically reduce landfilling. In case you're worried about air quality, the plant will incorporate technology that can achieve levels of 60% below the current permissible limits for nitrogen oxides. Meanwhile, that huge metropolis is doing everything imaginable to Reduce the amount of trash generated, and to Re-use as much good stuff as possible. This is really apparent in all the ways slightly odd fruits and off-color veggies are being made into wholesome meals instead of dumpster filler. 50% Recycling is a constant goal, with higher rates sought at all levels. But when all is said and done, when nothing more can be reclaimed from the region’s refuse given the tools at hand, at the very least North London will recover heat and power. It's much better than sending it to the dump.

Hey Rube!

One of the best tools for Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is the integrated Eco Park, where your trash becomes my feedstock. See our newsy bit on The Foundry Project; great example.

This Week's Top Story

BioEnergy Hawaii and Ulupono Initiative Partner for Waste Conversion Facility

BioEnergy Hawaii, LLC (BEH) has partnered with impact investment firm Ulupono Initiative to finance a resource recovery facility planned for the west side of Hawaii Island. 05/22/2015

The Week's News

Ohio 'Foundry Project' to Use Data Center Waste Heat for Aquaculture

Environmental attorney J. Duncan Shorey has announced formation of The Foundry Project, a collaborative redevelopment of an 8-acre brownfield site in Cleveland, Ohio. 05/22/2015

Cirque Energy and Cat Cay Yacht Club to Jointly Develop DGU Power Plant

Michigan based Cirque Energy, Inc has announced entering into a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with Cat Cay Yacht Club (Cat Cay), North Cat Cay Island, Bahamas, for the potential development and sale by Cirque to Cat Cay of renewable energy. 05/22/2015

UN Sustainable Energy for All Announces Global Bioenergy Initiative

A new multi-stakeholder coalition co-chaired by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has announced its intention to speed up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy. 05/21/2015

Energy Recovery Ships Pressure Exchanger System for Oman Power Plant

California based Energy Recovery Inc has shipped pressure energy technology components for a $1 million desalination plant project in Sur, Oman. For this project, Energy Recovery is partnering with Sidem, a Veolia Environnement company headquartered in France. 05/21/2015

Aventine Installs Valicor Corn-Oil Separation System at 110 MG Ethanol Plant

Illinois based Aventine Renewable Energy Inc has announced the successful installation of its third Valicor® corn-oil separation system. 05/21/2015

Blue Sphere Acquires Four Producing Waste to Biogas Facilities in Italy

North Carolina company Blue Sphere Corporation has announced that its new subsidiary Blue Sphere Italy S.r.l has acquired four fully operational biogas facilities in Italy. 05/20/2015

North London Eyes New Energy Recovery Project to Hit 50% Recycling Target

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has unveiled plans to develop a new £500m energy recovery facility that will generate electricity from non-recyclable waste to power local homes and businesses. 05/20/2015

Green Plains Partners LP Files for $200M IPO

Green Plains Partners LP has filed to offer $200 million in units in an initial offering with the US Security Exchange Commission (SEC). 05/20/2015

SEaB Wins 2nd Phase Cognicity Challenge and Canary Wharf Pilot OK

London's Canary Wharf Group (CWG) has announced winners in its ongoing Cognicity Challenge with this second round focused on Integrated Resource Management and Automated Building Management. 05/18/2015

Texas A&M Agriculture Faculty Focuses on Stopping Global Food Waste

Agriculture faculty at Texas A&M University are vowing to team up and figure out how to reduce global food waste by 5 percent over the next decade, according to Dr. Steve Searcy, the group’s facilitator and head of the Texas A&M biological and agricultural engineering department. 05/18/2015  

Gulfstream and World Fuel Services Sign Renewable Fuels Agreement

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp and its fuel supplier, World Fuel Services Inc has finalized a three-year agreement that provides Gulfstream with a consistent supply of renewable fuels for its daily flight operations in Savannah. 05/18/2015

The Week's Action Items

Due 06/15/2015: Comments to ODEQ on Reklaim Waste Conversion Facility

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has released a public notice requesting written comment on the proposed renewal of the Conversion Technology Facility Permit held by Reklaim, Inc for its Boardman facility. 05/18/2015

Due 09/14/2015: Applications to Elsevier Sustainable Chemistry Challenge

The Elsevier Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is open to individuals or organizations operating in the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors from all countries. 05/20/2015

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Recommended Reading:

Waste to energy conversion technology
Waste to energy conversion technology (Woodhead Publishing Series in Energy 2013)


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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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