County’s New Conversion Technology Project Promises A “Greener” Future

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has given the green light to a series of demonstration projects designed to convert non-recyclable waste into clean energy. As approved by the Board, the Southern California Conversion Technology Demonstration Project will use state-of-the-art methods to break down virtually all solid, non-recyclable waste into renewable material, such as biodiesel and ethanol fuel.

The project will use a variety of processes, including anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, and gasification to convert currently untreatable waste into re-useable material. Once the demonstration phase has been successfully completed, the technology will eventually be installed at other County waste facilities.

While conversion technology has been implemented in Japan, Europe and Canada, the County’s demonstration sites will be the first of their kind in the United States.

The demonstration project phase will be undertaken at three waste facilities, two in Riverside County and one in Orange County. They include an anaerobic digestion project operated by Arrow Ecology and Engineering and CR&R in Perris, a gasification project operated by Entech Renewable Energy Solutions and Rainbow Disposal Co., Inc. in Huntington Beach, and a pyrolysis project operated by International Environmental Solutions and Burrtec Industries in unincorporated Riverside. Additional project sites are also being identified in Los Angeles County.

The Board of Supervisors has been at the forefront of efforts to evaluate and promote the development of conversion technologies as environmentally friendly alternatives to landfill disposal. About 135,000 tons of trash are sent to California landfills every day.

Conversion projects have the potential to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills, create local green jobs, produce renewable energy and turn trash into a resource. The demonstration project is supported by a broad coalition of local governments, residents, waste management agencies and environmentalists.

Terry O’Day, Executive Director of Environment Now, said that the future of trash management would see a dramatic shift away from landfills. As we make the shift, we should always look to see if the waste can be reduced, recycled and disposed of in the least harmful way, O’Day said.

These new technologies hold promise to reduce greenhouse gases, reduce diesel emissions, reduce the need for waste transport through our neighborhoods, and supply a source of base power that facilitates our transition to renewable energy. The demonstration projects should provide very useful data to evaluate these potential benefits, he added.

The projects are expected to be operational by 2012.