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Solid Waste Management in Miami: One Person’s Garbage Is Another’s Person’sEnergy

A unique private-public partnership helps manage Miami-Dade’s solid waste management through energy generation

Miami-Dade County is one of many regions in the US that continue to find ways to cope with the incredulous volumes of waste produced year after year. The county’s solid waste management facility, officially known as the Resources Recovery Facility, is a unique public-private facility run with Covanta. Their waste-to-energy model uses waste from the county, processing it to generate energy and electricity that feeds back into the power grid.

It solves two problems head-on: sustainable energy production and waste management. Over the last four decades, they have developed an incredible model that allows them to carry out this work successfully.

How the waste is collected

The plant received about 1.1 billion tons of residential waste from Miami-Dade County each year, primarily from single-resident houses across the county. The waste is then taken to one of 13 trash and recycling centers and then moved through transfer stations where smaller garbage trucks pool waste into larger trucks, bringing the garbage to the plant.

They successfully manage a 90% reduction of the volume of waste and generate 550 kW of electricity per ton of waste. Not only that, but they manage CO2 emissions as well and create a sustainable source of energy that is fed into the main power grid.

They have an entire Solid Waste Management system through which they collect waste materials, which involves a subscription fee for members.

Core tenets of their work include the following:

Reducing garbage volume

The biggest benefit and perhaps the most important function of their work is reducing the garbage volume from Miami-Dade and their other locations. While they cannot control how commercial businesses and private contractors handle waste, their work ensures that over a billion tons of garbage are successfully converted to energy each year instead of ending up in landfills.

Miami Dade County is focusing on improving the Solid Waste Management in the city

Reusing the waste as much as possible

The waste is processed multiple times throughout the entire procedure, allowing the county to drastically reduce the use of waste materials that end up in landfills and dumpsites. This is a major environmental win and results in the use of waste as a byproduct too. The leftover waste at the end of the process is turned into ash which is disposed of safely.

Recycling leftover materials

They process thousands of tons of ferrous metals that are separated at the plant using powerful magnets and processing. They are further recycled along with other materials that cannot be converted into energy. These recycled materials are valuable resources that are further processed and used instead of lying unused and wasted. They also create a mixture that is referred to as low-grade soil that is then shipped back to the county and used to cover up landfills.

Miami is home to plenty of individuals committed to helping make the world greener, safer, and more environmentally friendly through innovative methods and techniques. Check out this article about sustainable fashion as another creative way to meet consumer needs.

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