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Waste Imports Remain Down at Wheelabrator

The amount of waste imported by the waste-to-energy plant remains lower than earlier in the last decade.

Although recycling is a positive step for the environment, it's taking away some garbage necessary to turn waste into energy.

That nugget was among the items in an annual briefing from Wheelabrator Gloucester waste-to-energy plant. Mike Kissel, Wheelabrator manager, delivered the briefing at the West Deptford Free Public Library Wednesday. Part of his remarks focused on how recycling impacts the plant's ability to create electricity.

In 2012, Wheelabrator imported 194,000 tons of waste, enough to provide enough electricity for up to 14,000 homes. Kissel noted that, because of various reasons, the past five years has seen a smaller amount of waste imported by the plant.

“When you look back five, 10 years, it's a lot less,” he said. “The economy contributed to that (as did) recycling rates in Gloucester County. When there's more recycling, there's less garbage.”

Kissel added that recycling rates are up in Gloucester County and areas around the state thanks to better recycling programs in most municipalities. Wheelabrator is in favor of recycling programs, he stressed, and they don't have an overall drastic effect on the plant, mainly because there will never be a shortage of trash.

“There's never a concern that we won't have enough trash,” he said. “We're part of Waste Management, so we can get it from wherever.”

A contract with Gloucester County mandates that the plant must send at least 22,500 tons of waste to the county landfill each year. Kissel said that too had no impact on the amount of waste available to Wheelabrator.

Meanwhile, a year after the plant reported that emissions were drastically reduced, Kissel said that those emissions remained down in 2012. The plant also passed all of its New Jersey environmental inspections as well as all biweekly inspections conducted by the Gloucester County Department of Health.

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