Saturday, March 6, 2010

The uniqueness of zero (landfill, that is...)

By now you know that the Dutchess County Fairgrounds' Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration is going to be a very special event.

It is also going to be unique (in lots of ways, but this one in particular...). It's going to be a Zero Landfill Event. Yes. Courtesy of our sponsors, Covanta Hudson Valley Renewable Energy and Royal Carting Service Company, and with the help of the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency, the Earth Day Celebration will be a Zero Landfill Event.

That's right. Zero Landfill.

What does that mean? Simple. No solid waste generated during the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration will be put into a landfill. Period.

We will recycle whatever we can, and the items that cannot be recycled or composted will be turned into electricity at the Poughkeepsie waste-to-energy plant.

Now, let's get something straight: This is not some smoke-belching, old-school incinerator. The waste-to-energy plant is a clean burning facility, whose air emission tests meet or exceed the strictest federal standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Absolutely true. See the information for yourself at Covanta's booth in the Hall of Green Energy at the Earth Day Celebration.)

What is waste-to-energy exactly? It's a process that takes solid WASTE -- generated by towns just like yours and mine, your own household trash, or solid waste from venues like the Dutchess County Fairgrounds -- and instead of putting it into the landfill, transfers it TO combustion chambers where it is burned and reduced to 10% of its original volume. The heat created by burning the solid waste heats up water in steel tubes that form the walls of the combustion chambers. The water turns into steam, which in turn is put through a turbine that continuously generates ENERGY in the form of electricity. The electricity goes back into the power grid to light and heat homes and businesses. There you are: WASTE-TO-ENERGY.

And that's what's going to happen to ALL the solid waste you and I and the activities you'll participate in at the Celebration generate that is left over after we're done recycling all the bottles and cans, cardboard, metal, oil and food scraps. It's going to be turned into power. Just think: After you spend your day at the Earth Day Celebration, go home and turn on the lights, a teensy, weensy bit of the electricity powering your lamps just might be coming from something you threw away at the Fairgrounds!

Talk about lowering your carbon footprint! Oh, and we'll also be piloting food waste composting at the Earth Day Celebration-- again, courtesy of Royal Carting, which will be supplying special bins just for that purpose.

And, you can practice the three R's by bringing your electronic waste with you when you come to the Celebration. We'll be holding another major e-waste take-back weekend (our third!) with Advanced Recovery, Inc. during the same hours as the Earth Day Celebration, as well as document disposal (secure shredding). We hope we'll be able to provide compact fluorescent recycling for your burned out CFLs, and for mercury-containing items such as old thermometers, and other items. So stay tuned for confirmation on that. But the E-waste turn-in and document shredding? That's a done deal.

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