Let it Burn: Turning Waste to Energy!

Let it Burn: Turning Waste to Energy!

People produce waste. This is a well-known fact of life.  During the early stages before breaking ground in any community, every urban planning firm must face the same question. Land developers, government officials, civil engineers and many others are also faced with the same question…What do we do with all the garbage? The Lee County Waste to Energy Facility transforms trash into a renewable resource.

According to research done by Duke University, “The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960.” Americans alone generates over 220 million tons of waste on an annual basis. The majority of this waste ends up in landfills which account for over 20% of the methane emissions in the US (EPA, 2011).* The natural resources we have available to us are depleting. As a society we must work together to reduce our impact on the environment and continue to find better ways to use what we need.

The Lee County Waste-to-Energy Facility creates a cleaner environment each day. All of the household garbage collected from Lee and Hendry Counties arrives at this center and is transformed into energy. The mass burn combustion process allows the waste to be burned and in this process creates energy for our community. The steam powers the facility and the extra power is sent to our local homes and businesses. Talk about sustainability!

This entire process is one example of sustainable urban development. Our collective community was creating a bigger footprint on our environment than we could afford. The Lee County Waste-to-Energy facility addresses two universal needs- waste elimination and electricity creation. This way of green engineering is becoming more and more popular in cities across the nation. We are running out of space for overflowing landfills. They are dangerous as well. The runoff and gasses that they produce are hazardous to our health. The fact that we have a state of the art facility here in our community is a huge benefit to all of us.

Jimmy Carter once said, “”Solid wastes” are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem.” President Carter’s worlds have never been truer than they are today. We as a community need to continue to come together to develop more sustainable designs and ways of doing things that will help southwest Florida flourish even more for our children.

*Duke Center for Sustainability & Commerce 


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