Michael Bloomberg Talks Trash: Will Mayor’s Waste-to-Energy Plan Survive Critics?


New York has a lot of trash! (Both the people-kind and the garbage can-kind.)

Today, though, Mayor Mike is concerned with the latter: He wants to build what’s called a waste-to-energy plant, a fancy way to describe an electricity-generating, trash-processing factory. His administration is accepting proposals until June 5, and he hopes to have a contract inked by September.

In the past, these plants incinerated garbage and had few controls to prevent air pollution. Newer, cleaner processes can now turn it into organic gas — or vaporize it to turn turbines.

Now, this sounds like a good idea — in theory, it basically means that instead of taking up space in a dump or landfill, garbage will give us power. But a lot of people aren’t sold.

For starters, people don’t typically want a trash plant in their backyard.

Just last week, Bloomberg had to assure Fresh Kills residents that the pilot project would not be built in their neighborhood, according to City & State.

And some supporters of waste-to-energy have criticized Mike as being too closed-minded: They say that he should seriously consider old school, incineration-based plants which tend to yield more electricity.

Some conservationists support waste-to-energy; others feel that time and money would be better spent bolstering recycling efforts.

Emissions do tend to be relatively clean, CNET notes: “Burning municipal solid waste has on average higher nitrogen and sulfur oxide emissions than natural gas, but lower than coal. The carbon from wood and other natural material in trash is considered part of the carbon cycle, whereas fossil fuels aren’t.”

Some analyses counter that even modern waste-to-energy methods pollute more than coal-fired power plants.

Whatever gets decided, one thing is for sure: the City needs to do something about its waste management policies, as it spends $300 million per year exporting trash.

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