<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Covanta's Future May be Imperiled If Recycling Gets Traction

Covanta likes to say that it elevates garbage out of the landfills.

And burning garbage does dramatically reduce what goes into dwindling landfills, only to slowly rot and fester for the ages.

But if municipalities ever focus on whittling overall waste through aggressive recycling and composting, Covanta could be in trouble.

According to a Covanta report, about 69 percent of the nation's 300 million tons of garbage is going to landfills every year. Twenty-four percent is recycled. Covanta claims its 41 garbage burning plants burn 7 percent of America's garbage.

According to Covanta's 2010 sustainability report, experts have advised Covanta Holding that burning garbage through mass burn facilities is not the highest and best long term plan.

Recycling and reuse are considered higher uses for municipal waste that result in net lower toxic emissions and net higher energy savings or energy generation.

A report published by the European Union entitled Waste Management Options and Climate Change notes that sorting municipal waste at the source, and then recycling, offers the lowest net greenhouse gases.

It is the way of the future.

Conversely, incinerators arguably make America's garbage problems worse because they discourage people from adopting "zero waste" and "clean production" plans.

Resource conservation, recycling and waste reduction become less important because incinerators can take loads of garbage and make 90 percent of it disappear without worrying about filling up landfills.

On top of that it has been estimated that for every ton of garbage destroyed in an incinerator, 71 tons of waste must be created somewhere else to recreate those products -- mine wastes, forest wastes, transportation wastes, energy wastes, and so on.

And waste-to-energy plants, some studies suggest, emit about as much greenhouse gases as oil-fueled power plants when all factors are considered.

Covanta's $2.6 billion nationwide investment in burning garbage is based entirely on the theory that America is too lazy and self indulgent to recycle.

If that ever changes, just how long will Covanta’s facilities be economically viable?

Not long at all.

Unlike Most Places, Niagara Falls Welcomed Incinerators

The Covanta Niagara plant started here in 1980.

During the 1980s, every state in the U.S. was targeted for waste incinerators -- "waste to energy" plants, they were called.

In most places, incinerators that burned garbage were seen as filthy, dangerous, expensive, unreliable, materials-destroying and energy-wasting, and citizen groups across the country organized and managed to stop 90 percent of the proposed incinerators.

But not in Niagara Falls.

Here the city that loves to take all the industrial pollution anybody ever thought of leaving anywhere and put it under homes or roadways, also welcomed the chance to take other people's garbage.

It will create jobs, city leaders said.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

AUG 13, 2013