Business Ideas, Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship

From Waste to Watts

From Waste to Watts: The Innovative Way One City Converts Trash Into Energy

Turns out, yard trimmings and sewer sludge can be used to power electricity plants.

By Paige Brettingen

Covington plant

Even for the most environmentally conscious residents, it’s not always easy—or possible—to recycle everything. From dead tree limbs to busted tires, most people have had to occasionally resort to using the garbage bin. But in Covington, Tenn., hard-to-recycle items are bypassing the landfill and being converted into electricity.

Though Covington has a population of just over 9,000, its biomass waste—which includes tree trimmings and sewer sludge—was adding up enough for David Gordon, who was mayor at the time, to start worrying about storage space. Also, the massive amount of waste required vehicles to transport it, putting an extra strain on the city budget.

While brainstorming solutions, Gordon learned that Covington’s 360 tons of monthly biomass waste could be repurposed thanks to a waste-to-fuel gasification system developed by Nashville-based PHG Energy.

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