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COVANTA is a world leader that provides sustainable waste and energy solutions to businesses and industries. Instead of delivering the trash to landfills, the EfW facility at COVANTA offers an alternative to businesses globally. To create valuable energy, they process enough waste to power 1 million homes, recycle metal, and build 5 golden gate bridges each year. They also reduce greenhouse gases by 1 ton.

Post-recycled trash is collected from homes and businesses and then delivered to COVANTA’s EfW facilities. To begin the process, the trucks first arrive at the scale house. The trucks are checked in and weighed there. The trucks are also weighed once they leave the facility to record an accurate amount of trash that was delivered. The scales have radiation detectors, that will alert the workers if there is radioactive material that should not be processed because of its harmful components.

The tipping hall is where garbage becomes fuel. Waste and trash are unloaded onto the tipping floor and inspected for hazardous, dangerous, or specific items for proper disposal. Operators use front-end loaders to manage the waste delivered and push the trash into a concrete storage pit. The air in the tipping hall is drawn through large fans that are used during combustion. This allows the tipping hall to have a negative pressure which contains odder and dust.  

The waste storage pit stores and manages thousands of tons at a time. This pit extends deep into the ground which allows for great storage capacity. Operates use grapples to mix the waste, making it homogenous; which ensures even consistent combustion. When the waste has been mixed properly, the operator puts the waste into hoppers which leads to the combustion chamber.

The combustion chamber and boiler are where waste is being processed. The waste goes onto a feed table where hydraulic rams push the garbage onto a stover grid, where it is burned at high temperatures. The system stokes the waste to ensure proper combustion. When heat and gas are released during this process, it travels through the boiler which transforms water into high-pressure steam. Once the steam is heated, it travels through pipes, taking it to a steam turbine generator. This helps to produce electricity. The high-pressure steam is powerful enough to rotate the turbine blades, which releases energy. The steam turbine is connected to an electrical generator, which produces electricity.

The switchyard is where electricity from the generator is fed into the electrical grid. The switchyard uses transformers that convert the generated voltage, to extremely high voltages meant for long-distance transmission. Some of that energy is used in-house which powers the facility, the rest of the energy is delivered to the community. COVANTA’s EfW facility generates enough renewable-based energy to power about 1 million homes.

Landfills are highly dangerous to the health of our environment and every organism on earth. They contribute to mass greenhouse gas productions because the garbage and toxins that rot in the landfills release high levels of CO2 and methane gas. Toxic chemicals that are discarded at landfills, tend to seep into the earth’s ground, making it hazardous to life and the water surrounding it. I think promotional materials that generate electricity are renewable energy sources because they have turned something that can be harmful (garbage and waste) into a cleaner source of energy.

Though recycling is known to be environmental-friendly, pollution is one of the downsides of recycling. At sites where the recycling process occurs, harmful chemicals are produced which invade the atmosphere and leak into the ground. Things that should not be recycled are; plastic bags, batteries and electronics, diapers, food, hazardous materials, styrofoam, and other toxic chemicals. To reduce industrial waste, we can control the amount of garbage we produce, be less wasteful and better stewards over our food and product consumption, eliminate bottled waters and use reusable/ glass containers, and encourage businesses to become environmentally sustainable and efficient. We tend to not focus on this solution because we are too busy focusing on our present lives, and not how our actions can affect our tomorrow.