Congress's Trash to be Burned for Energy

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Congress, Washington, D.C.

Starting next month, Congress’ non-recyclable waste will be burned to produce electricity. Photo: Architect of the Capitol

This spring, House Republicans caused controversy when, in an effort to cut costs, they cancelled Congress’ food scraps composting program and brought back polystyrene foam cups and plastic utensils to their cafeteria.

Now the Architect of the Capitol (AoC), the agency that recently assumed responsibility for the House’s sustainability initiatives, announced a new destination for the 5,300 tons of non-recyclable trash generated by Congressional facilities annually.

Starting next month, Congress’ waste will be burned to create heat, which will, in turn, produce usable steam and electricity. Designed to complement existing recycling programs, this process will divert up to 90 percent of the Capitol campus’ non-recyclable waste, according to the AoC.

READ: Is Landfill Gas-to-Energy a Good Idea?

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who led the repeal of Congress’ composting program earlier this year, expressed support for the new waste-to-energy plan.

“Waste-to-energy facilities, woefully underutilized here in the U.S., are an environmentally efficient, cost-effective means to reduce greenhouse emissions and divert waste from landfills,” Lungren said in a statement.

But other officials aren’t on board with the new initiative, citing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by waste-burning facilities.

“I don’t agree with it,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), told newspaper Roll Call. “Why the Republicans are choosing pollution at every step is beyond me.”

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