Where our garbage goes, and what happens to it, has impacts on our communities and our environment.
On Tuesday, July 15, the Metro Council will be presented with some options to consider for how our region can best manage its garbage into the future.
As part of the Solid Waste Roadmap project, Metro is looking at different options for managing our region’s garbage after the current landfill arrangements expire at the end of 2019.
Currently most of the region’s garbage is sent on long-haul trucks to the Columbia Ridge Landfill near Arlington, Ore., about 150 miles east of Portland. This landfill, owned and operated by Waste Management, has received much of the region’s garbage since the early 1990s. One option for the future would be to continue sending much of the garbage there or to other similar landfills for burial.
There are also other technologies that are used throughout the world that offer the potential to capture energy from the unwanted and non-reusable stuff we roll to the curb. Metro has begun to study what some of those technologies are, and next Tuesday Metro staff will present some technologies for further study and consideration.
Metro staff has completed a preliminary study of 14 different technologies and has identified five approaches that could hold the potential for capturing more value from waste:
- Continuing to send garbage to landfills, where methane is extracted from the decaying waste
- Burning garbage to create heat and electricity
- Heating garbage at very high temperatures (1800 degrees Fahrenheit and higher) to create gases and break down into simple compounds that can be used for electricity generation or other chemical processes
- Using bacteria to break down biodegradable material without oxygen to produce methane and carbon dioxide for electricity, natural gas or other fuels
- Developing new fuels from garbage that can be used in power plants and for other industrial purposes
Some of these technologies would also require new facilities to sort through and remove recyclable and reusable materials from garbage so that the leftover waste can achieve better results in energy development.
At Tuesday’s work session, the Metro Council will have an opportunity to learn more about these technologies, ask questions and give direction to staff on whether to continue to study all of these technologies or a smaller group of them. No decisions about a preferred technology will be made until Summer 2015 at the earliest; this is the beginning of the conversation about how our region can get the most out of its garbage while continuing efforts to create less waste.
The work session begins at 2 p.m. in the Council Chamber at Metro Regional Center, located at 600 NE Grand Ave. in Portland. This discussion is anticipated to begin at 2:40 p.m.