Pasco County fires up trash disposal
Short on land and swamped with garbage, Pasco County is looking to burn more junk for energy.
Why it matters: Officials are scrambling to manage an influx of trash that followed the county's recent population boom. Its waste-to-energy facilities are expected to burn about 100,000 more tons of garbage than usual.
- Some environmental groups and residents in Florida have raised concerns over how emissions from waste-to-energy facilities could impact the health of those who live near the plants.
What's happening: In September, Pasco County earmarked over half-a-billion dollars to expand its waste-to-energy plant. Officials hope to offset some of the cost via funds from the Inflation Reduction Act.
- The move will boost the site's electricity output, which is already enough to power upward of 10,000 homes, NBC reported.
- There are nearly a dozen waste-to-energy facilities in Florida, four of which are in the Tampa Bay area: Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa each have plants.
The intrigue: Pasco County's residential growth is outpacing Pinellas and Hillsborough — but its waste-to-energy plant can handle considerably less than either of them.
How it works: Waste-to-energy plants produce electricity by burning solid waste to heat water and generate steam that drives electric generator turbines, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.
- Modern facilities have air pollution control equipment that, when operated correctly, can keep the emissions of several different air pollutants below limits set by the Clean Air Act.
- They can lower the volume of waste by over 80%; what's left behind from the reaction is ash gravel that's eventually discarded in a landfill.
By the numbers: The amount of trash generated by Florida increased by 5 million tons from 2017 to 2022.
- Each year, the state combusts about 8% of its waste and landfills around 50%, with the remaining waste being recycled.
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