Sustainable Development Goals
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA), GPU Energy, Martin, Covanta
Feasibility Study, Due Diligence, CSR Education Plan
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018 was 292.4 million tons (U.S. short tons, unless specified) or 4.9 pounds per person per day. Of the MSW generated, approximately 69 million tons were recycled, and 25 million tons were composted. Together, almost 94 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 32.1 percent recycling and composting rate. An additional 17.7 million tons of food were managed by other methods. The amount of MSW combusted with energy recovery was 34.6 million tons, while the amount of MSW sent to landfills was 146.2 million tons.
Presented below are details of these trends:
The Lancaster County Resource Recovery Facility, located on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Bainbridge, PA, began commercial operation in May 1991. The 56-acre facility processes 1,200 tons per day of solid waste, which generates 35.7 megawatts of renewable energy that is sold to GPU Energy. The facility is a "zero discharge" facility, meaning that all the wastewater generated on-site is treated and reused in the waste management process. Covanta Lancaster also uses secondary sewage treatment runoff from a nearby treatment plant for all of its process water. As part of the facility, there is a public drop-off center where residents can bring non-hazardous household items for disposal. Covanta has an operating agreement with the facility's owner, the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA).
LCSWMA manages the trash and recyclable materials from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania homes and businesses, as well as trash from the City of Harrisburg and surrounding Dauphin County communities. Once the waste is delivered by private haulers, LCSWMA employs a multi-step approach to disposal and processing, called an Integrated System. This Integrated System not only saves significant landfill capacity but also creates clean, renewable energy.
This facility has been in operation for 31 years and primarily serves the sustainable waste management needs of Lancaster County. The integrated system includes a consolidation and transfer complex, a county-wide recycling program, Household Hazardous Waste Facility, a waste-to-energy site, and a landfill. The Lancaster WTE Facility has also been recognized as a Star worksite in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). VPP Star status is the highest honor given to worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems. In addition to the facility being a shining example of advanced thermal treatment of municipal solid waste, this facility illustrates how important waste to energy is in providing an integrated solution to waste management. The following benefits are realized.
Today, it is estimated that 70 advanced thermal treatment plants operating in 21 states consume about 13% of the nation’s trash, down from a peak of 14.5% in 1990. Cumulatively waste-to-energy plants offer roughly 2.5 gigawatts of power in return, less than a tenth of what the U.S. solar industry produces.