Waste to Energy (WTE) Plants are Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) facilities that incinerate trash to generate electricity. Currently, 11.8% of US waste goes to WTE. There are 86 WTE facilities in the U.S., they exist in 25 states. WTE is the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into usable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas recovery.
Until the 1960s, incinerating waste was done in open pits, posing serious harm to the planet and living beings within a certain radius of each pit. Technology has progressed significantly since then, and current Waste to Energy (WTE) plants are a result of these technological advancements and scientific findings.
There are three ways to burn waste at Waste to Energy facilities: the mass burn, modular, and refused-derived fuel (RDF) systems. Let's have a look at how each work.