Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — Solidaridad officials are looking into the prospect of turning Riviera Maya trash into usable electricity.
German company Harvast Power has been fueling their own with usable electricity for a few years already by placing discarded organic waste into incinerators. The company’s facilities use anaerobic digestion, a process where zillions of natural microscopic bacteria eat away at dinner plate leftovers and front lawn greenery, releasing a renewable biogas (essentially methane and carbon dioxide) that can be combusted to fuel electric generators. Any residual solids become nutrient-rich fertilizer.
With the huge increase in waste throughout Solidaridad, the region has seen landfills stretched to the limit, a problem that increases during high tourist seasons. It is for this reason both state and municipal governments are looking into the possibility of gradually or partially eliminating sanitary landfills.
Ecology and Environment secretary Alfredo Arellano Guillermo, said they already have applications from a German company to invest in waste incineration technology and that they are working with the German government, reviewing alternatives.
Gustavo Maldonado Magna of the environmental commission, explained that while defining the legal framework to install this technology in the state, they are considering Puerto Aventuras as the host location for the plant prototype.
Notification of the project has already been given to PASA, the company that operates the sanitary landfill for Solidaridad. In the meantime, formal announcements will be on hold until officials determine which municipalities would be the best to participate in the project.
Sweden has been turning trash to energy as well, importing more than 800,000 tons of waste a year to heat nearly 1 million homes and provide electricity to 260,000. These incinerators are gaining the attention of other high-waste countries including the US.
Last year, Florida opened the country’s first waste-to-energy plant in 20 years, incinerating up to 3,000 tons of trash per day. Kathleen Ligocki, CEO of Harvest Power, says that their Massachusetts plant has been successfully converting residual solids into fertilizer with 33 million bags of converted soil and mulch sold at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart each year.
In 2010, the municipality of Solidaridad generated approximately 350 tons of waste. Already this year, more than 550 tons has been received.