December 21, 2018
The Method & Benefits of Turning Waste into Energy
Did you know that your organization’s medical waste can be converted into environmentally-friendly energy?
After the waste leaves your facility and is treated by your medical waste management partner, it can undergo a waste-to-energy (WTE) process, converting it into useable, clean electricity that can power entire neighborhoods.
How the Waste-to-Energy Process Works
The WTE process employs specially designed boilers that combust nonhazardous waste in a closed loop system. The technology captures the heat generated by the combustion, using it to create steam, which powers a turbine that produces electricity. The electricity is then sent to local utility companies for use in homes and businesses—or it can be refunneled back to the waste management plant to run the equipment.
Benefits of Turning Waste into Energy
1. Reduces Landfill Waste
By converting waste to energy, it substantially reduces the amount of waste entering landfills, which can curb greenhouse gases.
2. Creates a Significant Amount of Energy
One ton of waste can yield between 550 and 700 kilowatt hours—enough to power a person’s home for almost a month.
3. Recycles Excess Waste
The technology used to convert waste into energy also recycles any metal that remains after combustion, including steel and aluminum, further shrinking the amount of unusable waste.
4. Sustainable Process
The process itself is green, employing the latest pollution control equipment to scrub and filter emissions, preventing their release into the environment.
Sustainable Waste Management Practices at Stericycle
Stericycle takes advantage of this technology in a number of its waste management plants. For example, in our Woonsocket facility, after we autoclave regulated medical waste, we send it to a WTE recycler instead of a landfill, generating clean energy while limiting the impact to the environment. At our Springhill facility, we use WTE technology when we incinerate non-RCRA pharmaceutical waste. The steam we create produces electricity to operate the plant, reducing our reliance on external utilities and lessening our carbon footprint.
See also BioMass Explained, turning Waste-to-energy (Municipal Solid Waste), at the US Energy Information Administration website, updated Nov. 26, 2021: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/waste-to-energy.php