Chinese waste-to-energy plant will be a mile in circumference
On the mountainous outskirts of Shenzhen, a fast-growing mega-city in China, the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world is on the horizon.
You can bet that this disk-shaped trash-burning plant isn’t going to do any wonders for China’s notoriously bad air quality. It’s projected to burn 5,500 tons of trash per day — one-third of the waste Shenzhen produces. But the alternative isn’t very pretty, either. Fast Company reports:
In China, most waste currently goes to landfills or illegal dumps — piles of trash so huge that they can actually be dangerous, like the landfill in Shenzhen that collapsed in December and killed dozens of people nearby. It’s a space problem, but also a climate problem, because landfills emit potent greenhouse gases as garbage rots away.
Incinerating trash also pollutes, but a state-of-the-art plant like the one planned for Shenzhen can dramatically reduce pollution compared to a city dump. “Burning waste naturally creates pollutants, mainly carbon dioxide — something in the region of one metric ton of CO2 per metric ton of waste,” says [architect Chris] Hardie. “This does not sound great for sure, but when you compare it to putting the waste to landfill, one metric ton of waste will ultimately produce somewhere in the region of 60 cubic meters of methane as it decomposes — and this has more than twice the negative effect on global warming.”
The Chinese government plans to build 300 waste-to-energy plants in the next three years to combat the country’s growing waste problem.
Source: Kate Yoder; Grist