For years, landfills have been known as the enemy. Environmentalists have been arguing against the lack of value landfills bring and the numerous negative effects they pose to the environment and the people living in the surrounding areas. It took some time, but Fresh Kills Landfill on New York City’s Staten Island has found a way to take state-of-the-art technology to turn their trash into something useful.
Fresh Kills Landfill is one of 30 landfills around the country that are turning landfill gas into “high BTU” pipeline quality natural gas and heating 342,000 homes per year.
Fresh Kills is not the only facility capable of such possibilities. Locations all over the country, such as Greenwood Farms Landfill in Tyler, Texas and Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley, Washington have been taking the extra step to create natural gas. In fact, 31 percent of U.S. landfills have taken this step, generating enough power for 1,829,000 homes.
Fresh Kills, which opened in 1948, stopped accepting waste in 2001. But decades later is still generating methane and is expected to do so at a significant rate for at least another decade. So, the city decided to turn what was once the largest landfill in the country, at 2,200 acres, into a park but needed to clean up the emissions in order to do so.
The Fresh Kills landfill now generates energy through the collection of released landfill gas. New York City is paid $12 million each year for the gas which means that the methane generated as this trash decomposes is no longer released into the atmosphere offering a great landscape for a park.
The obvious benefits from this project lie in the production of new energy, which is both cost-effective and eco-friendly. Not only does the project mitigate the dependency on fossil fuels, but the state of New York gets paid for this clean natural gas.