Rising trash production sparks debate on waste-to-energy plants

Portland, Maine

America remains awash in refuse as new cases of the coronavirus decline – and that has reignited a debate about the sustainability of burning more trash to create energy.

Waste-to-energy plants, which produce most of their power by incinerating trash, make up only about half a percent of the electricity generation in the U.S. But the plants have long aroused considerable opposition from environmentalists and local residents who decry the facilities as polluters, eyesores, and generators of foul odor.

The industry has been in retreat mode in the U.S., with dozens of plants closing since 2000 amid local opposition and emissions concerns. But members of the industry said they see the increase in garbage production in the U.S. in recent months as a chance to play a bigger role in creating energy and fighting climate change by keeping waste out of methane-creating landfills.

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