What Is Waste to Energy?

Putting Waste to Use

Resource recovery, or waste to energy (WTE), is the process of generating energy or steam from the processing of post-recycled municipal solid waste. It is an established, sustainable solid waste management practice in the state, and also utilized nationally and globally for waste management.

The waste to energy process provides energy and unlike traditional renewable energies like wind or solar, it provides solid waste management benefits as well. Processing of the waste material removes recyclables and metal that remain in the garbage and routinely increase recycling rates in local communities. This “second chance” recycling adds significant tons annually and reduces maintenance at WTE facilities. Pope/Douglas County is finalizing a plant upgrade that will increase their second chance recycling rate from 3% to 7%.

WTE facilities also create quality fuel to power and heat homes and businesses. This power is continuous and reliable. It also reduces the dependence on fossil fuel natural resources for electricity. In 2021, Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority generated approximately 42,000 pounds of steam per hour from waste combustion and continues to sell this steam directly to two local businesses, reducing their need to create steam.

WTE reduces the need for landfill space for waste disposal, which is limited in Minnesota. Capacity for landfills continues to be a concern for much of the state. Additionally, landfills produce greenhouse gas emissions and leachate which require monitoring and treatment.

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Integrated Waste Management System

The waste management hierarchy is defined by state law and illustrated in this graphic...

What Is Waste to Energy?

Resource recovery, or waste to energy (WTE), is the process of generating energy or steam from the processing of...

Path to Zero Waste

Zero waste can be a priority for a county, city or even an organization, but what does it truly mean?

Solid Waste in Minnesota

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) examines waste management for the entire state...

WTE Statistics and Facts

Minnesota's resource recovery facilities annually process into energy enough garbage to fill...


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