John Casella on “Resource Transfomation:” Waste Managment for the 21st Century.

Waste management isn’t just about hauling garbage to the landfill anymore.

It’s about developing the technologies that turn discarded waste into fresh resources.

This was the testimony of John W. Casella of Casella Waste Systems to the Vermont House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy this spring. Mr. Casella outlined his company’s efforts to increase the percentage of waste it recycles, while simultaneously reducing its own carbon footprint.

Having set a voluntary goal of reducing energy use by 10% between 2005 and 2012, Casella noted that the company had actually seen a reduction of 43% in just four years, primarily by converting its trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) and converting landfill gasses to electricity.

CWS’s waste management efforts go beyond separating glass from plastics. High-tech optical sorting machines break incoming solid waste into categories, allowing each type of waste to be managed in more efficient ways.

The goal is to reuse everything, not just traditional commodities like paper and aluminum. Organic waste can become compost, mulch, fertilizer, biofuels, even electricity. Cellulose and fiber can be converted into environmentally-friendly insulation.

Today, about 40% of consumer packaging is recyclable, but Casella believes “over time, we’ll see a change in how companies are packaging their products,” driving that percentage much higher. As consumers demand more sustainable production manufacturers have “real incentive now in the marketplace to change.”

This evolution of consumer culture means big changes for waste management professionals. In the future, Casella argues, “real value is going to be created in this resource optimization/sustainability model.”

“After 30 years in the business,” he says, “it’s very exciting to go to work every day.”

Read Casella’s PowerPoint presentation. (PDF)


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