What would you do if you knew that your trash could be used to help power your entire community? The western Tennessee town of Lebanon will discover the answer to that question on October 13th, 2016, when they open the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant. The structure shown below will blend tire scraps, wood waste, and biosolids to form a fuel which in turn will power the clean production of renewable energy.
The plant is expected to produce over 1 million-kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity over its 20-year lifespan, enough to power 350 homes every year. This electricity will be used to help power the plant itself, while some of the carbon-based renewable energy created from the plant will be sold to fuel the town’s agriculture. The plant will lessen pollution annually by turning 8,000 tons of landfill waste, 2,500 tons of carbon emissions, and 400 tons of tire scraps into clean, renewable energy. Furthermore, the building itself minimizes its negative effect on the environment by taking up less than one acre of land.
Although the plant is relatively small, it has already started to spark a green cultural shift in the surrounding area. "This facility is going to be a model for public/private partnerships to cleanly dispose of waste and produce green energy," remarked Lebanon mayor Phillip Craighead. "The next stage will be utilizing this technology to solve our ongoing municipal garbage situation, and give us all a much more sustainable and cleaner option than dumping waste into landfills."
However, growth won’t stop there. Craighead believes that “this facility is going to be a model for waste-to-energy partnerships as well as the first stage in moving our city completely away from dumping waste into landfills.” Tennessee is setting the stage for a revolution in green energy, and more collaboration and experimentation will give this movement the strength and momentum needed to improve our environment on a national, or even global scale. So, ask yourself, wouldn’t you want to be able to use your waste to power your lifestyle?