What Happens to Your Trash?
Ever Wonder What Happens to All The Trash? Well, A Lot Has Changed Over the Last Few Decades!
What was once a crude process of burying everything wholesale in a big hole—an ecological nightmare if ever there was one—has become a sophisticated, highly-engineered process of sorting, recycling, composting and transformation.
Let’s take a look at what trash processing looks like today:
- It all starts with you! Typically, at your home, business or office, you sort waste into recyclables and non-recyclables.
- Recyclables go to Edmonton’s 6000 m2 Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)—one of the most advanced such facilities in North America, processing 70,000 tonnes a year. The material that arrives here is sorted and shipped out to be processed by the various industries that use these materials in their products. Care is taken to sort out electronic and hazardous waste and handled appropriately.
- Non-recyclable matter goes to the Integrated Processing and Transfer Facility (IPTF) where it is sorted and turned into compost or biofuels, or sent to the landfill
- Composting: the Edmonton Composting Facility is the largest of its kind in North America! It processes 160,000 tonnes of organic waste and biosolids each year for use in agriculture and horticulture.
- Biofuels: set to open in 2017, Enerkem’s Waste-to-Biofuels Facility is a world-leading anaerobic digestion facility (ADF) that will convert landfill waste into renewable energy in the form of electricity and heat. Once operational it will annually convert 140,000 tonnes of solid waste into 38 million litres of biofuels and chemicals. This process produces 60% less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the equivalent fossil fuel production combined with the reduced landfill operation.
- Landfill: as it stands now, over 50% of Edmonton’s solid waste is diverted away from the landfill and into recycling and composting. Once Enerkem’s ADF is running, an amazing 90% of what was once buried in landfills will be diverted! An added bonus is the landfill gas recovery system already in operation. A system of pipes and wells runs through the landfill and collects daily 50,000 m2 of poisonous and combustible methane gas produced by the anaerobic decomposition of waste. This is piped to local generating plants and produces enough electricity to supply the annual demands of 4600 homes!
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