- South Carolina’s Berkeley County is planning to contract with RePower South to have trash converted into pellets and sold to coal plants that will burn them to generate electricity. This process would dramatically increase the county’s recycling rate, claims RePower, though industry professionals feel the recyclables’ quality may be compromised.
- Some local officials are not sure the company is qualified to take on the task. Residents are especially skeptical after GenEarth, a green-energy plant, turned waste into electricity near their homes, creating gases that caused a strong ammonia smell.
- Though County Council voted in favor of the contract, the deal is not sealed, according to county attorney John O. Williams, as reported in the Post and Courier. If the contract goes through, garbage will be brought to a facility near the landfill where RePower will extract and sell higher-value recyclables. Some remaining bits of paper and plastic will be made into the pellets to be sold to coal plants. The remaining waste will go to the landfill.
With "renewable energy" now a buzz term, more experimental technologies to achieve it are emerging. While some argue the Berkeley County proposal could be disastrous, others say it will dramatically increase recycling and reduce burden on the landfill. RePower president Bob Shepard estimates that 20% of the county’s trash can be recycled, 45% made into pellets and 35% would go to the landfill.
Jim Rozier, the county’s former supervisor and now a paid consultant for RePower, said he thinks the company’s methods are the way of the future ..."[The pellets] takes the place of coal, but it’s cleaner than coal," he said.
Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, chairwoman of the Council’s solid waste committee, said, "It’s an unproven technology," adding it would cost more than the county’s current program.
County residents who live near the landfill remain skeptical of experiments of any kind after their experience with GenEarth.