The EcoComplex Project: Turning Waste into a Commodity

Barry Edwards had a seemingly simple idea: why not have businesses and other groups make use of the garbage and sewage that was piling up every day in Catawba County's landfills instead of letting it go to waste? Having heard of similar plans being successfully implemented in other communities and countries, he knew that such a project would help save costs and create new jobs and resources, through recycling, that would benefit the county’s residents and the environment.

Thus was born the Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility at Catawba’s Blackburn Landfill. Though still in its early stages, the complex has already helped move Catawba County up to third place from fifth in North Carolina in per capita recyling and has boosted the county’s revenues by $500,000 a year thanks to a new methane-to-energy project. "Every tie you see there has a benefit," said Edwards, Catawba's utilities and engineering director. "We didn’t just pad these people’s wallets. We get something from it."Edwards and his colleagues are already hard at work finding other innovative ways to convert the county’s waste into commodities and are encouraging businesses to relocate next to the landfills to take advantage of the project:

- An Appalachian State University research facility will use the grasses planted on the fields of buried trash to make/study biodiesel.

- A brick-making company is negotiating with the county to build a plant next to the landfill to use the heat from the methane-to-energy project to dry bricks.

- A vegetable greenhouse operation will use the carbon dioxide emitted by burning landfill gases to spur the growth of plants.

- A new sewage sludge composting facility will use the gas it produces to make more energy.

Via ::Eco-friendly project helps wring value from waste (newspaper)

See also: ::TreeHugger Picks: Landfill Gas, From Trash to Alternative Energy, ::TreeHugger Looks Into The Carbon Offset Project At The Tontitown Landfill, ::UK Green Party on The Vista Landfill Effect, ::New Biodiesel Plant Runs on Landfill Gas