Projects in 636 municipalities across the U.S. are looking at ways to convert landfill gas into energy, such as using it to power buses or turning it into electricity. Municipalities will be generating 2.4 billion tons of solid waste each year by 2025, according to the World Bank.
The Department of Energy will provide up to $4 billion in loan guarantees for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects that include the enhancement of existing facilities, waste-to-energy projects and efficiency improvements. "Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S.," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Trash collection has come a long was since the ancient Romans created the earliest known landfill site. Companies such as Republic Services and Waste Management still make money by hauling waste to landfills, but they're also increasingly finding ways to generate profits by recycling waste or running waste-to-energy facilities. "We want to provide services that our customers demand, and to the fullest extent possible create business models that are sustainable," says Republic recycling chief Peter Keller.
General Motors recycled about 90% of its total manufacturing waste in 2012, with 105 of its facilities achieving zero-to-landfill status. That saved the company about $1 billion, according to the company's sustainability report.
Tesoro has reached a $1.1 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over allegations that it violated Clean Air Act standards at its refineries in Alaska, North Dakota, Utah and Washington state. The company allegedly failed to monitor or test fuel production for toxic pollutants. Tesoro said it is addressing the issue.