If all of the plastic sent to United States landfills each year were diverted to waste-to-energy facilities, it could produce 52 million MWh of electricity annually, according to a report by Columbia University.
According to Energy and Economic Value of Non-Recycled Plastics and Municipal Solid Wastes that are Currently Landfilled in the Fifty States, that much energy would be enough to to power 5.2 million U.S. households a year.
Although in the United States plastics are made primarily from natural gas, a growing number of technologies are turning non-recycled plastics into crude oil, electricity and other fuels. Many of these technologies are already being implemented on a commercial scale in Europe, Canada and Asia, according to the report.
The report, sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, also estimates that if all of the country’s municipal solid waste was diverted from landfills to waste-to-energy facilities, it could produce 162 MWh of electricity annually. This would be enough to power 16.2 million households every year.
Earlier this month, Congress announced that it would be sending all of the non-recyclable waste produced by the Capitol complex to local waste-to-energy facilities.
According to the Architect of the Capitol – the federal agency charged with maintaining the building – the measure should save American taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.