US plastic waste could power five million homes

Non-recycled plastic being chucked into landfill in the States could power five million homes a year, according to new research. Scientists at Colombia University found that converting the waste material […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Non-recycled plastic being chucked into landfill in the States could power five million homes a year, according to new research. Scientists at Colombia University found that converting the waste material using today’s technology could make huge amounts energy.

The study, sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, estimated that if all the non-recycled plastics thrown away in the States annually were put through waste-to-energy facilities, they could produce 52 million MWh of electricity, or enough to power 5.2 million households a year. Alternatively, if all the municipal solid waste were processed, this could fuel six million cars annually.

Prof. Marco J. Castaldi at Colombia’s Earth and Environmental Engineering Department said: “Plastics have a significantly higher energy value than coal. Capturing the energy value of non-recycled plastics – and municipal solid waste in general – makes good sense because it provides a good domestic form of energy while minimising impacts on the environment.”