- The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority in Pennsylvania may invest $13 million in a high-tech European system to recover small pieces of gold, silver, aluminum, copper, and zinc contained in waste ash at the Lancaster and Harrisburg incinerators. The sophisticated recovery system would yield 7,000 tons of ferrous and non-ferrous metals a year, amounting to about $1.7 million in profit for the authority, according to LancasterOnline.
- Dutch company Inashco North America would build, operate, and own the processing facility and sell the metals. The authority would front a loan to cover 80% of associated costs and be paid interest.
- The enclosed, two-acre site would sit on industrially zoned land at the Frey Farm Landfill in Manor Township, with three buildings, an ash-drying area, and conveyors. Pending board approval, the plant could be up and running by the fall of 2017.
Thousands of tons of ferrous and nonferrous metals are dumped in landfills every year. This project would turn that waste into a commodity; ash left after the recovery process would be used as landfill cover; a small portion of the landfill will be freed up; and recycling rates would rise.
"We like the project, we like the company, and we like the advancements in technology," said James Warner, Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority chief executive officer, as reported in LancasterOnline.
The agency is thinking the ash could have another purpose in time: serving as a material for road construction, something that Pasco County, FL is using landfill ash for. However ash must be handled with extreme caution to prevent groundwater contamination, and the prospect of transferring this waste at all has sparked debate in New York and elsewhere.