What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
What was once a pile of waste suitable only for landfills or compost heaps, may soon be the fuel of the future.
At the landfill in Florida’s Indian River County–an area partway between Orlando and Palm Beach–garbage trucks deliver more than 100,000 tons of yard waste from local lawns and golf courses in a year. But by 2018, if all goes as planned, instead of going in the dump, those grass clippings and tree branches will go next door to a new plant that will turn them into a replacement for petroleum. The product will have a tiny carbon footprint compared to the fossil fuel equivalent–and will also be cheaper to produce.
It’s a process that the company plans to scale up and license to others to be used to make both plastics (which are now made from petroleum) and fuel. And they say that there’s enough plant waste available in the country to make it a feasible replacement for industries that rely on fossil fuels.
“We have plenty of green waste,” says de Liege. “And the beauty of this process, as opposed to some of the others, is we don’t need to grow an energy crop. We don’t need to take up valuable agricultural lands that can be used to produce food . . . we can use the waste of those products. We can use paper waste. We can use lawn waste. . . . We have the feedstock. We just need the will to deploy this wide.”
“There is enough green waste in the United States to replace all petroleum-based products,” says Daniel de Liege, chairman of Alliance Bio-Products, the startup that plans to open the new plant. “All diesel fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, everything that we use petroleum for. There’s enough green waste in this country that, if this technology was deployed wide instantly, we could replace the use of all oil.”