1828 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
A Renewable Energy Source from Municipal Solid Waste
ASME SWPD Supports WTE - The Solid Waste Processing Division (SWPD) of the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) supports national policies that encourage the recovery of
energy from the controlled combustion of municipal solid waste (MSW), also called Waste to Energy
Proven Technology - WTE is a proven, environmentally sound process that provides reliable electricity
generation and sustainable disposal of post-recycling MSW. WTE technology is used extensively in
Europe and other developed nations in Asia such as Russia, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.
WTE Reduces Greenhouse Gases - New policies to encourage WTE can have a sizable effect on
reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.(1) In fact, nation-wide use of the WTE technology can
become one of the big contributors to America’s planned reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
WTE Reduces Dependence on Fossil Fuel - New policies to encourage WTE can also have a
meaningful impact in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing production of renewable
energy. MSW is currently comprised of 56% biogenic and 44% non-biogenic materials (2). Combusting
the biogenic fraction of WTE is considered renewable by the DOE (1). Currently, there are 86 WTE
facilities in the U.S. that process 29 million tons of MSW per year (1). The nation currently landfills
about 248 million tons of waste per year so there is significant potential to increase energy production
from WTE. Every ton of MSW processed in a WTE facility avoids the mining of one third ton of coal
or the importation of one barrel of oil. If all waste were processed in modern WTE facilities it could
satisfy 3 to 4 percent of the country’s electricity demand.
Additional Environmental Benefits of WTE -
• Complements recycling and reduces landfill