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What Is The Environmental Impact Of Diverting Paper From The Waste Stream For Use As Fuel ?

Updated on December 30, 2016

P.A.P.E.R. ( Private Action Promoting Environmental Recycling )


This paper makes the environmental and economic case for diverting paper fiber from the landfill waste stream, to be used as a fuel in electric generation plants.

Before trying to determine the contents of the waste stream and the feasibility of diversion the author explores the historical basis of landfilling and why it continues today to be the method of choice. Following, is an explanation of the costs associated with current landfill practices and a determination of the contents of the modern landfill. Having established an idea of what part of the waste stream is paper fiber being land filled we can then explore the advantages and disadvantages of using paper fiber as fuel. Proposed is the use of source separation and diversion to a Paper Fiber Processing Company to create “Process Engineered Fuel” (PEF) fuel. “Process Engineered Fuel” as an energy source (fuel) is then compared to coal, the current fuel of choice. The environmental advantages and disadvantages of both paper fiber and coal when used as fuel are explored. Even though the environmental conditions appear favorable to such a diversion scheme finally, the paper considers the economic conditions that need to exist for it to occur. Deciding that the diversion of more “raw materials” such as paper from the waste stream will only occur if there are dependable markets, a possible diversion scheme to guarantee a market is discussed. Suggesting using a source separation method of waste stream diversion, and trying to build a convincing economic argument for source separation appears a challenge because there is plenty of evidence that no one is presently interested. There appear to be no environmental or technological hurdles preventing the diversion and use of paper fiber as fuel. Having been successfully demonstrated and used in other places it could be implemented in the Western Lake Erie region. The basic concept is viable if a convincing economic argument can be presented to the communities of this region, the current users of fossil fuel, and upon identifying the “parties” that will participate in creation of the necessary infrastructure.

Project Findings

The environmental impact of using paper fiber as fuel is obviously positive and practical when compared to current fossil fuel practices. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is significant.

Landfill life expectancy may be dramatically increased by diversion of raw materials from the waste stream and the creation of “products” from the “raw materials” currently land filled.

Using paper fiber as fuel reduces the amount of CO2 permanently released into the environment compared to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, that are not renewable.

PEF (Process Engineered Fuel) generates significantly less Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) which causes “Acid Rain” when compared to using Coal as fuel. The benefits of PEF are demonstrable.

Reducing methane releases from landfills is critical due to its impact of over twenty times the effect of a greenhouse gas. The less paper fiber land filled the less greenhouse gas eventually created by, and need for, fewer landfills.

Mercury emissions from coal combustion could be significantly impacted by reducing coal use.

Ohio and Michigan could mitigate the effect waste dumping has on landfill life expectancy and create jobs for citizens in their states with renewable waste stream diversion.

There appear to be no environmental or technological hurdles preventing the diversion and use of paper fiber as fuel. Identifying interested “parties” who will participate appears critical since once source cannot provide enough “raw material”.

Given current regulations it appears that PEF could replace only up to 30 percent of the coal currently used in electric power plants.

With landfills plentiful, and profitable locally, with life expectancy of 30 + years in the western Lake Erie region , who presently cares ?

First Energy's Bayshore Power Plant near Toledo Ohio
First Energy's Bayshore Power Plant near Toledo Ohio | Source
J.R. Whiting Generating Complex Monroe County Michigan
J.R. Whiting Generating Complex Monroe County Michigan | Source


The purpose of this study is to analyze the potential environmental impact of diverting paper in the current waste stream in the western Lake Erie region from the landfill so that it could be used in a regional electric power generating plant fuel cogeneration project using coal and diverted waste paper. Data was gathered and analyzed for the Western Lake Erie Region consisting of the northwestern Ohio counties of Lucas and Wood, and the southeastern Michigan counties of Monroe and Wayne. These counties and their landfills comprise the region of the United States that exists at the western end of Lake Erie. There are six major coal fired electric power plants within this region.

In the beginning.....

When I started my research it was my supposition that I could logically demonstrate the case for a dramatic waste stream diversion of paper. I believe I have done that, and in the process have found that others have also made the case before. However, in exploring this topic one finally comes to the conclusion that landfills will always continue to be the preferred method of disposal. Having said that what arguments could possibly be raised to support a different vision of dramatic waste stream diversion ? Logical arguments previously have been presented by others touting the environmental advantages of reduce, reuse, recycle and the creation of markets for the raw materials within the waste stream. Given the time I had and in wading through literally reams of paper and data, I have also attempted to present the case for diversion but may just be another voice crying out in the wilderness since there seems to be no true interest in diverting materials from the landfill waste stream.

Trying to determine the contents of the waste stream one finds the need first to understand what is involved in landfilling and why it continues to be the method of choice. Having established then an idea of what part of the waste stream is paper fiber being land filled we can then explore the advantages and disadvantages of using paper fiber as an energy source (fuel) by comparing it to coal, the fuel of choice. Evidence is presented comparing the pollution and environmental effects of both paper fiber and coal as fuel. Suggesting a source separation method of waste stream diversion, and trying to build a convincing economic argument for source separation has been a challenge because there is plenty of evidence that it appears no one is presently interested. However, the evidence shows that the basic concept is viable if a convincing economic argument can be presented to the communities of this region. Specifically the current users of fossil fuel.

Past is Prologue

Historically mankind has solved waste disposal problems by tossing his discards away in the closest physical location. First in a pile an arms length, or throw, away from his domicile and fire, if not into the fire itself. Archaeologists have sorted through these “middens” to learn more about how prehistoric man and those who came after him lived. What they ate, made, tools used, animal and plant life found in an area, climate clues, are all indicated within the discard pile. It is still true today in what we discard in our landfills. What mankind uses, trades, and values is evidenced in his discards.

When the number of people increased and joined together in villages and later towns the discards, then mostly biodegradable, were often thrown in the streets. In early Cincinnati Ohio pigs roamed the city streets cleaning up after the humans. When a town became too large for individuals to burn or bury their discards in the back yard of their residences they dumped their discards in a common dump just outside of the community but still close by for convenience. When that space became filled or too awful to serve its purpose a new spot would become the open dump.

Due to their appearance and unsanitary conditions from the open burning and vermin, and a greater awareness over time of public health concerns, the open dumps of the past found at some common location(s) have evolved into the “sanitary” landfills that still serve the same basic function today. But now due to aesthetic and sanitary environmental reasons; driven by increasing populations disposing of ever more; with resultant air and water pollution, and new toxic man made materials and modern commercial industrial chemical cocktails (some with a toxic half life of thousands of years); we now find the need to construct landfills with the contents better contained and separated from the environment. The contents placed in specially designed “modern” landfills, where biodegradability is impeded or even stopped. But still it is the same mentality. We still dispose and toss, and now bury in areas that contain literally mountains of debris, the result of modern prosperity, and our “everything is disposable” throw away lifestyles. Our historical method of solving our disposal problems still is the preferred one nationally and globally, “ out of sight, out of mind “. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1) says “Since 1980, the total annual generation of MSW has increased more than 50 percent to its 2003 level of 236 million tons per year.” Currently 55 percent of all our waste goes to landfills, with 15 percent burned-incinerated, and 30 percent recycled. There were dramatic recycling gains from 1980 (9.6%) to 1995 (26.1%). Though the amount recycled was increased, it has not increased significantly in the last decade and now hovers around 30 percent.

The Modern Landfill

What is the current cost of landfilling : planning and permitting costs, cost of land, - cell construction, - operating costs, - monitoring (present and future) ? Where is the cost benefit analysis leading to action on landfilling ?

There are many well written sources for information on waste issues ranging from articles for children (2) to academic papers. An interesting “Garbage Timeline” (3) is full of facts about the relationship of Americans to garbage and municipal solid waste disposal challenges and solutions from colonial times to the present.

The modern landfill is specially engineered to sequester the items placed within it from the environment; theoretically forever. (4) The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says ..... “Solid waste landfills must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants which may be present in the solid waste stream.” The site is carefully chosen based on soil conditions and proximity to groundwater. According to one fascinating source on landfills, costs begin before you can even start to build a landfill. “Landfill Economics : Part I : Siting” states ..... (5) “ A good rule of thumb is five years from conception to the first day of operations with costs ( even before actual construction ) of well over $1,000,000.” Part II of this landfill primer goes on describing all the details and costs of landfill construction with specificity explaining ..... (6) “ The cost of constructing a landfill can range from $300,000 to $800,000 per acre, .....” The landfill is lined with at least two feet of clay on the bottom and sides and then a plastic liner to mitigate against groundwater contamination. In addition an interior collection system is installed to collect leachate from rainfall coming from above. The leachate is pumped out and treated. The disposed solid waste each day is covered with soil or some other waste covering materials, and compacted. Groundwater monitoring wells are required. In addition, landfill gas comprised primarily of carbon dioxide and methane ( a powerful greenhouse gas ) created from decomposition of solid waste within the landfill is collected and used as fuel, though sometimes just simply vented off, sometimes just burned off. Construction of ancillary buildings and support facilities, security fencing, scales, roads, etc. is estimated (6) “to range from $1.65 to $1.77 million .” Annual operating costs will be about $600,000. Then more costs exist later with mandates for capping, closing costs, the thirty year post closure care, and long term monitoring of the site. The long term care of closed landfills is mandated. Monitoring wells, methane production, leachate removal, and management expenses long after it is “closed” means a landfill is truly never a finished project.

You would think then that having the landfill last as long as possible would be a reasonable economic goal since the major costs are the initial startup and preparation expenses and not the operational expenses found in most enterprises. However once created landfills generate revenue streams that make them very profitable. Even considering the mandated environmental “costs” of doing business, which can usually be quickly remedied by raising the tipping fee to “what the market will bear”. The individuals that create and manage landfills are usually not the same found throughout its life span. It is almost a “let the next guy worry about that problem” whether it is paying for the costs involved now or sometime later. Out of sight - out of mind.

The landfill solution will need to be with us for the foreseeable future since some modern land filled things really do need to be sequestered to protect our environment since they are so toxic. Maybe someday a future society will “mine” our landfills and empty them to recover the contents and raw materials we do not value today. But we will never be able to completely ignore and forget about them, because they will not go away, ever present with the potential for dreadful air and water pollution from the toxic contents contained within. Still it is our human heritage to dispose of our problems rather than prevent them in the first place.

There is however possibly one argument, at least for some parts of the country, that could be made for increasing recovery rates of recyclables and reducing the percentage of discards in the waste stream that heads to landfills.

There are fewer though larger landfills

There are in fact according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1 Figure 5) fewer landfills, though the size of landfills has increased. In 1988 there were 7924 landfills and by 2002 there were only 1767 landfills. Most of the closed landfills were less than ten acres and essentially open dumps that due to their environmental impact needed to be closed. The number of landfills in our country have decreased though the size of the modern landfill has been growing both vertically and horizontally.

Phoenix Arizona (7) just opened a new landfill in January 2006 costing $ 23 million dollars for the new landfill and $43 million for the transfer station. The new City of Phoenix SR85 Landfill will occupy about 2 square miles, or 1300 acres, collect over one million tons of solid waste a year and serve the city’s solid waste needs for the next 50 years.

Some see landfills as the best MSW solution as explained by Lawrence Kansas saying they don’t need curbside recycling because. (8) “Lawrence has low landfill disposal fees (19.50/ton) and a nearby landfill (HammSanitary Landfill) with a projected life span of 170 years.” However for many regions the landfill problem has not been as easy to resolve.

Demonstrating the same landfill mentality as Lawrence Kansas is the (9) 2001 Monroe County Michigan Solid Waste Planwhich concludes that (on Page II-28) the landfill solution, “ status quo option ”, is the county plan of choice for the foreseeable future. The report states that the public will accept the plan since it does not call for siting a new disposal area. On Page A-14 is the statement ..... “Properly constructed, maintained, and monitored sanitary landfills can have minimal effect on the environment.” Lip service is given to the importance of “recycling” but they lack firm data on how much is diverted from the landfills by this practice, and feel that it will have to be done by the “private sector” since the County will not. When the county runs out of space in the existing landfills it plans to site new landfills or ship the trash out to adjoining counties. The “wild card” in these plans is the increasing importing of trash from Canada to Michigan landfills in Monroe and Wayne counties. For example ...(10) “Currently, Markam - - like other municipalities in the greater Toronto area - - ships all of its garbage to Michigan at a cost of $22 CAN per tone (metric ton, 1000 kg).” Since Toronto closed its municipal landfill in 2002, the waste from the greater Toronto region is being sent to the Carleton Farms Landfill in Wayne County Michigan. Of the Ontario Canada waste, thirty-five percent (35%) is just from Toronto which sent 111 trucks of waste daily in 2005, down from 142 trucks in 2003.

There is plenty of land to site landfills in Canada but they have chosen not to since land near urban areas is expensive and there is political pressure not to do so presently. To promote a pristine environment in Canada and address local objections to siting new landfills within Canada, they have been actively shipping Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to landfills in Southeastern Michigan reducing the life expectancy (life span until filled) of those landfills. The state of Michigan, like Ohio, has been unable to address this problem to date due to the United States Constitutional limitation, and a Supreme Court ruling in 1992, on states affecting interstate commerce. The threat to landfills life expectancy and inability to control the types of waste being shipped has yet to be addressed at the federal level after years of complaints from states. Canada has solved its problem in the short term by being willing to pay to ship it somewhere else. One hundred plus trucks a day go through downtown Detroit to Michigan landfills.

The Need for Landfills Grows Annually

Statistics indicate that the garbage problem is continually growing. (11) “The first BioCycle “State of Garbage in America” survey was conducted in 1988-1989. .....- based on information provided by states - revealed that 250 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated annually. With roughly 250 million citizens, each of us generated one ton per year..... based on 2004 MSW management data - we found an estimated 388 million tons of MSW was generated, for an average of 1.3 tons per person per year. We’re still making more garbage, Out of that, 110.4 million tons were recycled and composted (28.5%), 28.9 million tons were combusted (7.4%; almost all in waste to energy plants) and 248.6 million tons were land filled (64.1%). So, we’re making more garbage, but we’re also recycling more. Compared to two years ago we’re recycling 28.5%, up from 26.7%. Recyclable and compostable materials comprise upwards of 60% of the MSW stream and they’re still being dumped.”

It is better to give than receive

Because landfills are closing the amount of waste shipped across state lines will increase. Some states like New York have regularly solved their MSW problems by exporting them to other states. According to a Congressional Report 1995 Update (12) reporting 1993 data the state of New York exported 3,900,000 tons of Municipal Solid Waste with the largest part coming from New York City. The state of New York imported less than 200,000 tons for an export total of 3,700,000 tons. Even Ohio exported 340,573 tons mostly to Michigan and Kentucky. However in this year also Ohio imported 1,670,914 tons with net imports then of 1,330,341 tons. Michigan exported 67,000 tons (as reported by Ohio and Indiana - since Michigan had no tracking system) and was unable to even estimate how much waste Michigan received . The over-all winner in the landfill sweepstakes was Pennsylvania in 1993 (12) which received one fourth of the nation’s total waste imports at 3,847,000 tons.

Of interest is that New York reported having 52 landfills with only 2 receiving out of state waste; Michigan reported 110-120 landfills and no idea of how many received out of state waste; and Ohio reported 57 landfills with 20 receiving out of state wastes.

A Congressional Report (13) for Congress in 1997 found that in tons


New York159,0003,774,000- 3,615,000



Ontario, Canada758,000-758,000


The report states that one fifth of all interstate shipments nationally are generated in New York City. This report in 1997 also observes .... “ Further, despite the already large amount, waste exports from New York are expected to grow rapidly because of the planned closure of New York City’s Fresh Kills Landfill the city’s only landfill - in 2001.”

We can see that over time a clear pattern was developing during the last decade of the last century. The solution for many states, was and continues today, to deal with the problem of MSW by shipping it elsewhere.

Build landfills and they will come

Obviously New York was / is not building landfills. Ohio is getting less of the New York garbage as Pennsylvania continues to be the largest waste importer. Ontario is not building landfills. Michigan is the lucky recipient when based on information for the 2003 FY it imported solid waste from 11 states and Canada. According to the report issued in 2004 for FY 2003 (14) “Canadian waste imports equal about 15 percent of all waste disposed of in Michigan landfills. Waste reported from other states and Canada totaled about 25 percent of all solid waste disposed of in Michigan landfills.” The numbers in the latest annual report issued two years later, (17) placed in the exact same sentences, are reported as 19 percent and 29 percent. The problem continues to get worse.

In FY 2003 Monroe County imported 1,715,082 cubic yards or about 519,722 tons ( since a ton of waste equals about 3.3 cubic yard (15) ), and Wayne County imported 4,904,743 cubic yards or 1,486,286 tons. The Map found in the Appendix (16) shows the impact of landfilling, especially for Monroe and Wayne counties, with four of the top five Landfills receiving out of state trash located in southeastern Michigan. Number Two on the list is Carleton Farms. In FY 2005 Carleton Farms was the recipient of 4,273,485 cubic yards (4.27 million cubic yards) of MSW from Canada, much of it from the greater Toronto area.

In Fiscal Year 2005 the state report on Solid Waste Land filled In Michigan summarized the trend with (17) Table 2 (only partly reproduced here) to show the impact over time on Michigan landfills .......


Fiscal Year.MichiganCanadaOther States

FY 199787.2 %5.7 %7.0 %

FY 200083.5 %7.4 %9.1 %

FY 200571.1 %18.6 %10.3 %

Interestingly in 2001 it was reported (18) that nationally Ohio was first in hazardous waste imports at 508,836 tons and that Michigan was second at 394,064 tons of hazardous waste imported into their respective states. Having landfill space seems to attract paying customers.

This is not really a unique situation since New York City, having closed their Fresh Kills Landfill in March 2001 which handled about 3.5 million tons of garbage annually, now pays one hundred ($100) dollars per ton to ship their trash out of the state of New York. They do not seem to be in any hurry to site another landfill within the state, or reduce MSW, or divert materials from the waste stream. At one time not too long ago New York and other east coast cities piled their MSW on barges that were towed out to sea and dumped into the open ocean. This practice of dumping MSW in the Atlantic ocean lost favor when ocean currents regularly redistributed the garbage along east coast shorelines. However there is evidence that the practice has not ended completely with all kinds of waste. Environmental damage and toxic zones 100 miles out in the Atlantic exist due to the dumping of wastes from New York.

Costs of dumping vary

The tipping fee (19), usually expressed in dollars per ton, is the cost of “unloading or dumping solid wastes at a landfill, transfer station, recycling center, waste to energy facility, and other types of facilities.” Tipping fees vary depending upon the region and number of landfills. For example, the Average Solid Waste Tipping Fees as of December 2001 were reported as...(19)...

Incinerators & Waste-toProcessing

Landfills-Energy (W-T-E) PlantsFacilities

Average Northeast 55.3560.1558.19

(ex.)New York 76.7466.7249.90

(ex.)Pennsylvania 50.8452.3259.23

Average Midwest 31.9252.7938.73

(ex.)Ohio 29.39-------37.90

(ex.)Michigan 33.5354.7637.89

Disposal of Solid Waste (Garbage) at the Wood County Landfill (20) is $38.05 per ton as of 7-5-06.

According to the Hoffman Road Landfill web site (21), the disposal of Solid Waste (Garbage) at the only Lucas County landfill, will be tipping fees at $16 per cubic yard, which equates roughly to over $48/ton since a ton of waste equals about 3.3 cubic yard. (15)

It is clear that the Midwestern states average tipping fees are much less per ton than Northeastern states. Comparing New York with the states to its west it is clear why New York is shipping waste across state lines. The ultimate tipping fee expense is finally determined by the cost of transportation by truck or train, plus the tipping fee actually charged by the landfill at the final destination. Do good customers get discounts ? It appears waste haulers shop around for the best deal.

Reasons to build landfills

An article in the Toledo Blade, July 2002, (22) claimed that requests had been made to expand landfills in Northwest Ohio due to increasing amounts of trash going to landfills. Requests for expansion of Wood County’s Evergreen Recycling and Disposal Landfill and the vertical expansion of the Wood County Landfill, the only two landfills in Wood County were reported. The article states that the Toledo Hoffman Road Sanitary Landfill, the only Lucas County Landfill and operating dump left in the city, is half full with a life expectancy of 27 more years. (The City’s web site says it will run out of space and close in 2026.) With multiple landfills expanding the state could end up with 35 years of capacity. On the Ohio EPA web site as of April 24, 2006 there were a total of 41 Licensed Municipal Solid Waste Facilities in the state of Ohio, one in Lucas and two in Wood County.

Discussed also are low tipping fees in the Midwest compared to the eastern US (22). “For many area landfill operators, it makes little difference where the stream of garbage comes from .... Michigan was the second-most popular destination for Ohio trash exports. Much of that trash originates in the Toledo area and other parts of northwest Ohio, ending up in a BFI landfill just across the state line in Michigan’s Monroe County, officials said. ....... Monroe County ranked fifth among the state’s counties in the amount of outside trash received. ..... Most has come from across the border in Canada.”

Mankind it appears only changes behavior if forced to by circumstance or demonstrated benefit. Toledo Ohio (21) recently was confronted with a shortened life expectancy at the city owned and operated Hoffman Road Landfill which opened in 1975, and is landlocked. The landfill is licensed to receive 1500 tons per day and needed the additional room we are told. Did the City seek to divert material from the waste stream to extend the life of the landfill, mandate recycling, or seek another site for a new landfill ? They chose instead to get permission for a plan approved in 1999, to extend the landfill laterally and vertically, from 35 to 120 feet over approximately 40 acres. (21) “Construction of the first cell in the expansion plan (Phase I) was completed and approved for use by the Ohio EPA in December of 2000 at cost of $3,300,000. This disposal cell is projected to be filled to capacity in one year.” Cell two came in at $4,500,000 and is expected to last two and one half years. Six additional cells are to be built. Though I must add they have installed gas extraction wells ( due to new EPA regulations ), connected to a flare which burns 24 hours a day. To their credit they are exploring options to use this gas as a fuel source next year. They are also using an “alternative daily cover” made from recycled newspapers instead of dirt to save (21) “valuable landfill air space” but don’t seem interested in diverting paper from the waste stream.

Doesn’t it yet appear to make economic sense to divert waste from this landfill to extend its life, or to seriously explore schemes proposed to divert waste from the waste stream ? In a conversation with a city official in the Solid Waste Division recently, they actually stated that a proposal to divert paper fiber from the landfill might have a negative impact on the production of methane (landfill) gas that might be used someday to power the water treatment plant, rather than just be burned off.

So this landfill just grows higher with the problem delayed for others to resolve in a future crisis since they are still not currently working to divert the waste stream currently land filled, or planning to site a new landfill for the City of Toledo. Reducing or diverting materials from this landfill is not even given lip service. Citizens are not informed and unaware there is a problem, action delayed now until a future landfill crisis looms.

Reasons not to build landfills

In testimony before a Congressional Subcommittee, the Ohio Director of the State of Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 made the following observations, (23) ..... “With the passage of Ohio’s comprehensive solid waste law, H.B. 592, in 1988, Ohio took a proactive step to responsibly manage Ohio’s waste by assuring in-state disposal capacity, at state of the art facilities, for solid waste generated in Ohio, and setting state recycling goals. It is only fair that other states take the steps necessary to responsibly manage their own waste, instead of relying on exporting their waste outside of their borders. It is difficult or impossible .... to verify that hazardous or untreated infectious waste has not been included in solid waste shipments ... Citizen opposition to landfills that are perceived as servicing primarily out of state waste hinders the siting of facilities needed to provide disposal capacity for Ohio’s waste. ..... Citizens are reluctant to reduce or recycle waste when they believe their efforts will only serve to make room for trash from other states........ Ohio imported the largest amount of waste from New York in 2002 .....” The testimony goes on confirming that Ohio has at current usage rates 30 years of capacity and could have an additional 10 years or more if all pending landfill permit applications are approved. Ohio remains vulnerable in the future ......” For these three reasons : landfill capacity; low tipping fees; and direct highway routes from the east coast ....”. The cost of transporting waste from the east coast is not prohibitive as demonstrated by a six year trend of increased out of state waste imports. The federal government does not seem to be in any hurry to limit interstate waste shipments today ..... three years after this testimony.

An ultimate dump site sought

But for the current excessive costs we humans would shoot our garbage into the sun, out to the moon, or at least into outer space for “ultimate disposal”. Evidence for that mentality clearly exists in the literally thousands of man created objects and debris circling our planet since the advent of the space age. The U.S. Space Command keeps track of this garbage dump using radar and optical monitoring. There are some estimated 4 million pounds of space junk in low Earth orbit according to a web article. (24) “As of June 21 2000, the agency counted 8,927 man-made objects in the great above and beyond; some are there more or less permanently.” This junk circling our planet is now endangering satellites and manned and unmanned spacecraft in orbit. Debris is tracked by radar located and numbered, and other debris exists too small to detect until it strikes a space vehicle at thousands of miles per hour. That is now considered a serious problem but has not slowed down our inherent junking of this new environment by mankind. Extraterrestrials will know us first by our garbage which includes human wastes jettisoned from space habitats. Satellites recovered from space have been found to have human waste splattered on the surface from encounters with such space garbage.

So mankind has not changed traditional disposal behaviors and will not do so in the foreseeable future. What then would impact this disposal behavior ?

Costs go on and on and on

The costs of landfills go on forever. Evidence for that is found at the City of Toledo web pages (25) within the City Council Updated Agenda Summary for February 28, 2006. There were five items passed by Toledo City Council of special interest. Two items dealt with closed landfills and necessary expenditures of $15,000 for North Cove Landfill and $390,000 for Dura Avenue Landfill to pay to monitor, test, do remedial action, and pay for oversight by the Ohio EPA. Three other necessary actions were $530,000 for the Hoffman Road Landfill, $390,000 to the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District, and $40,000 for Keep Toledo / Lucas County Beautiful littering and environmental education programs. The City of Toledo needed to use $1,365,000 of resources to manage the landfill operation needs of closed and current facilities. These are additional daily operational expenses. So logic would seem to indicate that reducing the cost of the landfill operation now and in the future would interest politicians and citizens. Guess again. The leaders of the City and citizens don’t give much thought to these issues and won’t until a new landfill is someday required.

Will landfill costs decrease in the future ? It is most unlikely due to increased costs associated with land acquisition, siting costs, more stringent environment requirements and regulations, methane production management, transport costs to deliver MSW to new landfills sited further away, and on-going expenses even for “closed” landfills. Some eastern states already ship to Ohio and Michigan (blessed with lots of land and geological features suitable for landfills, plus low tipping fees), rather than site landfills in their states. In addition some methods of disposal such as open dumping and ocean dumping are no longer possible choices.

Time Out

The reason I have spent so much time on this discussion of landfills is to demonstrate the conditions that exist currently. One would think that given the need for landfills and the need to transport MSW great distances to dispose of it, that all the parties would be interested in source reduction. As we further explored the costs of constructing landfills one would again wonder why there is no apparent interest in aggressive source reduction efforts, or developing markets for the raw materials that are recognized to exist within the waste stream. So far I have been unable to find any evidence in my research of that inclination being serious at any level of society or government. Many papers and research in the past decade have made clear the issues involved in waste stream diversion. Why isn’t it happening today, especially in areas with limited landfilling options and high MSW disposal expenses ? It is more than apathy or inertia at work here ? Will someone else take care of the problem ? There seems to be a national disconnect between cause and effect with our garbage once we set it by the curb. It seems apparent that landfill life expectancy can be shortened or extended by controlling how much is sent to a landfill. It also doesn’t seem to be an issue with very many Americans.

What is in a Modern Landfill ?

A cynic might say you could find anything in a landfill. However to better understand the problems and potential diversion of the material land filled, first you have to have a good idea of what ends up in a modern landfill. You would think somebody was interested. Having previously explained how the modern landfill is constructed to contain and isolate its contents from the environment into perpetuity most people never think about the contents of a landfill.

Surprisingly research on the contents of the modern landfill is relatively recent and limited. Before this research some believed that decomposition of the contents was occurring. Now we know that the conditions within the modern landfill retard natural recycling and decomposition processes.

Garbology, the study of refuse and trash, is the act of opening the closed cell of a modern landfill and examining the contents as an archaeologist might and cataloging the artifacts. The first serious garbology, The Garbage Project (2) long directed by William Rathje at the University of Arizona, was only first conducted in the 1970’s. It put to rest many myths about what was in landfills and what was happening. The most important discovery was that in a well designed landfill nothing was changing. The garbage was entombed.

Ohio looks in the trash

Recently, we are in possession of real data about what the composition of a local landfill appears to be due to an exciting study in Ohio. (26) “ In 2003, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention initiated a comprehensive waste characterization study. The purpose of the statewide study was to determine the types of solid waste Ohio residents and commercial businesses are currently discarding and how much of this solid waste can potentially be diverted from the state’s landfills. ” One of the goals was to establish baseline data within the state and to “ describe relative amounts of potentially recyclable materials. ”. One of the sites sampled was at the City of Toledo Hoffman Road Landfill in the Lucas County Waste Management District.

“ Waste sorts of residential and commercial materials were conducted at 14 public and private landfills and transfer stations with 11 solid waste management districts in the spring and fall of 2003. ..... The 2003 Waste Characterization Study found that the three major components comprise more than 60%, by weight, of Ohio’s total waste stream .” In every sort throughout the state it was found that the primary component of waste was Paper by weight and volume. “ Paper fiber was the number one component statewide (41% by weight and 44 % by volume. ....... Paper fibers accounted for nearly 50 % of the weight of pure commercial loads. ”

“ Six categories comprised the paper fiber component : corrugated paper, office paper, mixed paper, newsprint, magazines, and paperboard. Within this component, about 31% of the weight measured was mixed paper , newsprint, office paper and corrugated paper. The remaining 9% (by weight) consisted of the paperboard and magazine categories. ”

The number two component was Plastic, comprising 16% by weight and 25% by volume.

The number third component was metals comprising 4% by weight and 7% by volume.

One would think that a finding that .......... “ The Waste Characterization Study defined the three standard recyclables, paper fibers, plastics, and metals as the major components of Ohio’s waste stream ..... ” might lead to action on this issue finally. Three years later and it is difficult to get officialdom to discuss the issue with interested parties. The states and local governments are still discussing how to increase recycling participation and get it over 25 percent, but not exploring diversion schemes to keep things from landfills. They offer grants (42) as incentives but are not taking the lead with demonstration projects though the potential benefits are apparent. The case for diverting paper fiber from the waste stream has been made before but the landfill solution is so easy.

What could we do with The Paper in the Waste Stream ?

To divert paper waste presently going to landfills an economic case as well as an environmental case needs to be presented.

Paper is basically cellulose which is carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen the same elements in sugar. So what can this paper fiber be used for ? Some think of recycling only as using the recycled discards to make the same product again. Historically the paper market has wildly fluctuated with high prices per ton for brief periods of shortages, and then glutes of paper when you cannot give it away and need to store it until you can sell the paper when demand improves. If you don’t have the demand of a regular market the recycling paper still may end up in a landfill since it does not make economic sense to collect and store what you cannot be assured of getting rid of other than by landfilling.

Toledo recycles, or not

According to an article recently published in the Toledo Blade (27) ..... “Toledoans are not good recyclers. About 19 percent of the city’s 114,000 households recycle, up from 17 percent last year when the city added to its biweekly pickups cardboard, junk mail, and magazines, all of which is trucked to Cleveland and reborn as insulation. Toledo’s recycled glass, plastic, and cans are sent to recycling heaven - Ann Arbor - and sold for the going rate.” The “Glass Capital” of the world doesn’t recycle glass. It gets worse ..... “Ohio counties are required to have a plan to recycle 25 percent of residential and 66 percent of industrial junk. Lucas County’s rate is about 12 to 14 percent, said Jim Walters, manager of the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District.”

If we recycled

Assuming that we could separate the paper fiber from the waste stream locally what should we do with it ? The obvious attractive first answer would be to recycle it into new paper products. Some advantages of recycling paper are that a ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves 7000 gallons of water; 17-31 trees; 4000 KWH of electricity; 60 pounds of air pollutants. While an attractive solution there are problems with it. First is the issue of transportation costs of paper fiber going to a processing facility. The more the transportation costs the higher the final product costs and the less an incentive to divert from the waste stream. Some areas don’t have a population large enough to make recycling feasible.

Toxic paper

A more serious argument for only recycling paper is discussed in a Conservatree article (15)Page 6....” In order to solve environmental problems caused by paper disposal, we need to eliminate toxic materials used in inks and dyes, and discontinue the use of chlorine for paper bleaching. ..... environmentally toxic metal pigments such as arsenic, cadmium, zinc, manganese, mercury, potassium, copper, chromium, nickel ..... exist in paper that is land filled or burned ....In incinerators, they become concentrated in either toxic air emissions or hazardous ash, which then must be land filled .... when .... the paper is recycled problems are reduced ....”

Currently the paper fiber that is not being recycled ends up spread throughout the landfill, contaminating the whole landfill with toxic metal pigments. The discussion probably needs to be a weighing of the amounts and relative evil of one kind of pollution versus another. Are the advantages of using paper fiber as fuel sufficient to accept the disadvantages. Is there a market for the ash of combustion that otherwise is lost to a market due to toxic heavy metal contamination of burning paper as fuel ? Is there any industrial process that does not create problems in the attempt to solve other issues ?

It is difficult to argue with the merits of the claim that ....(?)“It usually requires significantly less energy, water and other resources to recycle materials than to produce new materials. An argument then could be made that it is always best to recycle paper since making new paper would create 25 percent to 70 percent less emissions than if the paper were from virgin materials. Discussed in this paper is promoting the feasibility of removing more paper from the waste stream that is now going to the landfill and using it to generate electricity.

Still while the recycling of paper repeatedly may have some environmental advantages it is not practical everywhere. Transportation expenses have to be considered. Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely since the fibers become shorter each time they are processed. In addition the waste paper is often contaminated with paste, gummed paper, plastic coatings, clay content, and different inks that compound recycling and require more processing and bleaching to make higher grade papers. De-inking results in 22 pounds of sludge for every 100 pounds of waste paper recycled. There are many factors that determine whether it is best to recycle paper or use it as fuel. The final costs of recovery, processing, handling, the combustion temperatures of the paper fiber and the resultant pollution all need to be evaluated. If still more paper can be diverted from the landfill for yet another market and used as fuel, that is an advantage.

Processed Engineered Fuel

( I apologize but the data below would not move from my document into HUB Pages and remain ordered. Please consult the original cited document(s) to see the data for yourself. Thank you. )

The use of paper for fuel is not a revolutionary or radical new idea. Tomczyck (1997) (28) states the following ..... “ The power generation and municipal solid waste management industries share an interest in the use of process engineered fuel (PEF) comprised mainly of paper and plastics as a supplement to conventional fuels. Many materials discarded into the waste stream are not recycled using traditional approaches because it is not technically or economically viable. Increased recovery of these materials into fuel could significantly reduce the nation’s dependence on landfill disposal while also decreasing the use of fossil or other types of conventional fuels. ” Later in the same article the author states ..... “ The term ‘PEF’ sometimes has been used interchangeably with the term ‘RDF’’ (Refuse Derived Fuel), but the general consensus of the industry is that PEF is a higher quality fuel than RDF. ..... primarily achieved through either : 1) use of source separated feed stocks; or 2) additional processing of waste to ...... remove more non-combustibles and contaminants.” Such an extensive quote is used since this author so succinctly states the case. A bonus is Table 1 as part of the article.

Table 1: Typical Characteristics of PEF, RDF, MSW, Hog Fuel and Coal

Type of Fuel Moisture BTU/lb Ash Sulfur Chlorine

Content Content Content

%by Weight %by Weight %by Weight %by Weight

MSW15-504, 500-5, 50018-30 0.10-0.50 0.10-1.00


RDF3-355,500-6,5008-250.10-0.50 0.10-1.00

PEF3-206,500-16,0002-150.02-0.20 0.03-0.50

Hog Fuel40-604,100-4,8001-5>0.10 >0.03

Bituminous2-2011,000-14,5003-160.50-4.7 0.01-0.90


Note: Hog fuel refers to wood waste processed by a “hog” (shredder) that reduces the dimension of the material. See that in the chart above PEF (Processed Engineered Fuel) can sometimes achieve BTU’s greater than Coal. According to this chart PEF, and even RDF and unprocessed MSW, generate significantly less Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) the cause of “Acid Rain” than when using Coal. That is another important argument for the use of paper fiber in co-generation. PEF and Coal generate comparable levels of Chlorine and Ash. The actual pollutants always vary depending on the combustion temperatures, particle sizes, fuel contaminants, where introduced in the combustion chamber of the furnace, and whether combustion takes place resulting in complete or incomplete combustion.

This article includes detailed emissions information.

Table 4: Emissions from Co-Combustion of Coal and PEF (without air pollution control)

EmissionUnits100% Coal50%Coal & 50% PEF



Total Non-Methane ppm224139






It continues comparing metal emissions of Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, and Zinc.

Quoting again ..... (28) “It is important to the success of PEF that the public, regulators and potential markets perceive PEF as an environmentally positive renewable fuel that can be used to replace conventional fuels in existing boilers. PEF needs to be perceived and regulated as a resource.” Remembering that this article and research are almost a decade old it is interesting to note that most individuals are unaware of PEF today as that renewable resource since the fossil fuel industry has not embraced it to date.

The remainder of the article (28) is likewise a wonderful primer on what is involved in processing PEF including listing selected PEF production facilities around the U.S. The article goes into detail on test co-firing of PEF with solid fuels and test results. This fuel can have a high energy content and be used in existing energy facilities which should mean many more potential customers.

The St. Clair Power Plant, a large coal fired generating station in Michigan.
The St. Clair Power Plant, a large coal fired generating station in Michigan.


Coal, a fossil fuel, is a burn able rock that contains carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. All coal is not the same. Even coal from the same source may be somewhat different. That is the reason that the BTU’s derived from Bituminous Coal in the preceding chart ranges from 11,000 - 14,500 BTU. Since coal originally consisted of plant material from different kinds of plants that grew in different kinds of soil and consisted of different nutrients coal is not a uniform source of energy. When coal is burned due to combustion that is more or less completed the result is different levels of energy (B.T.U.’s), and different levels of air emissions (Sulfur Dioxide - SO2, Mercury - Hg), greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide CO2, Nitrogen Oxide - NO3), and amounts of ash that can potentially be toxic dependent on the conditions within the combustion chamber and ash that can or cannot be used in a secondary market (ex. cement) or need to be land filled due to contamination.

Coal - The traditional favorite, plentiful and cheap

Coal is usually a very cheap source of energy as demonstrated by the chart found at (29) with a high average cost of $ 50.92 per short ton (2000 pounds) for a brief period in 1975 ( remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74) to a cost of $ 18.34 per short ton as of 2004. Coal is substantially less costly than other fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.

In 2004 prices per short ton costs were Lignite ($ 12.35), Sub-Bituminious ($ 8.51), Bituminous ($ 30.47), and Anthracite ($ 60.16).

Coal is grouped into four basic categories, or ranks, (30) dependent upon the types of carbon they contain and the heat energy that can be produced.

Lignite, brown coal used mainly at electricity generating plants, has the lowest carboncontent and heating value and is high in ash and moisture.

Bituminous coal, the most plentiful in the U.S., has high heat value with little moisture.

Sub-bituminous coal is used to produce steam for electricity generation.

Anthracite coal in the United States is found in Pennsylvania. It has the highest carboncontent with the lowest ash and moisture.

Coal makes up 85% of United States energy reserves. A pound of coal is equal to about 10,000 Btu’s of energy. A ton of coal contains about 20 million Btu’s of energy.

There are six major coal fired electric power plants within the Western Lake Erie Region of this study. Bay Shore is found in Oregon Ohio. In Monroe County Michigan there are the J R Whiting and Monroe coal-fired power plants. In Wayne County Michigan is found the River Rouge, Trenton Channel, and Wyandotte coal-fired power plants. There are only 20 coal-fired power plants in the state of Michigan, with one quarter of the total located in just these two counties.

The J.R. Whiting plant operated by Consumers Energy is the smallest coal-fired plant owned by the company and began producing electricity in July 1952. So it is 54 years old this year and in 2004 produced a record 2.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity, delivering 94% efficiency. (31) “With three coal-fired units (two 102 megawatts and one 124 megawatts), Whiting is considered a baseload plant, because the units are designed to run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year ..... All three units burn a blend of eastern and low-sulfur western coal. The eastern coal is delivered to the plant from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, while the western coal makes its way from Wyoming and Montana. The plant uses about 1.4 million tons of coal per year, delivered by rail.” Western coal produces fewer nitrogen oxides and other emissions than eastern coal. In 2004 seventy four percent (74%) of the coal burned by Consumers Energy was western coal versus thirty two percent (32%) in 1997.

Hidden expenses of coal use

Coal is the traditional fuel of choice for firing electrical generation power plants because it is plentiful and cheap, nine out of every ten tons of coal mined are use to generate electricity The direct and indirect costs of resultant pollution problems have been avoided with the environmental costs redirected to the society as a whole and not factored into the use of fossil fuels. There are environmental impacts to air and water from coal production to coal consumption. (30) “ When coal is burned as fuel, it gives off carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas ..... burning coal also produces emissions, such as sulfur, nitrogen oxide (NOx), and mercury, that can pollute air and water..... plants use “scrubbers” to clean Sulfur from the smoke .....scrubbers and NOx removal equipment are also able to reduce mercury emissions from some types of coal....(EPA) has set tighter mercury limits for the future.” The damage from greenhouse gas emissions are not a “cost of doing business” currently since they are not “charged back” into the cost of electric generation with the use of coal in power plants. Chemicals from burning coal are involved in the creation of ground-level ozone. Particulates from coal burning causes haze reducing visibility, is involved in asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and lung disease as well as. (32) “The problem is likely to grow because the Clean Air Act (strict air pollution law passed in 1970) grandfathered plants planned or constructed before 1997. Utilities use these plants, which are allowed to produce up to 10 times as much pollution as newer facilities, to generate cheaper power.” The average Consumer’s Energy coal -fired power plant in Michigan is about 43 years old.

In a 1999 International Environmental Congress Abstract (33) some of the problems with coal are indirectly addressed in a discussion of the advantages of fiber loading during the production of newsprint. The Abstract described significant reductions in emissions of the greenhouse gases Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide, and Methane that could be accomplished by reducing the amount of Bituminous Coal used as energy for processing pulps in the manufacture of fiber-loaded newsprint. Recall Table One earlier discussed and the reduced amounts of Sulfur Dioxide SO2 gas which creates “acid rain” created by fiber paper combustion versus coal.

Carrying this logic further think of the reduction in greenhouse gases resulting in the substitution of paper fiber for coal in the generation of electricity. The article provided the formulations and calculations demonstrating evidence that greenhouse gases are significantly reduced by reducing coal use through this improved paper manufacturing process. Therefore using paper fiber as a coal substitute should have the same result as previously demonstrated with Table One in the PEF discussion.

A serious coal problem ?

Coal provides over 50 percent of our nation’s electricity. On the horizon, though there have been successful concerted delaying actions by the fossil fuel industry to address it to date, is the issue of mandating limited Mercury (Hg) emissions largely released from coal-fired power plants. In a Harrisburg Pennsylvania newspaper article the claim was made that (32) “ Unfortunately, the largest contributor to the problem, the electric utility industry, continues to get a free ride on its mercury pollution .....other sources are reducing emissions, not such requirements exist for coal-fired power plants.” The U.S. EPA reported in 1999 that electric utilities released 48 tons of mercury. If the propaganda and articles generated by the industry are any indication there is serious concern by fossil fuel users over any attempts to impose limits on mercury emissions from coal burning sources. The National Mining Association has argued against limiting mercury emissions by stating (34) “Regulations designed to further reduce mercury emissions must not jeopardize the nation’s ability to utilize this domestic strategic energy resource and must not disadvantage any specific coal rank in the marketplace.”

Fossil fuel producers and users have delayed implementation of mercury limits and reduction strategies but may not always be able to do so in the future. Future efforts to control and limit mercury emissions, since the technology for doing it is yet to be identified, will make paper fiber still more attractive as a fuel substitute for coal.

A temporary coal problem ?

Though the United States has over a 250 year supply of coal and is sometimes called the Saudi Arabia of coal, supplies of coal are not always dependable.

Most coal, almost 60 percent, for at least part way is transported by train. According to a recent Associated Press story in the Toledo Blade, (35)..... “ At power plants around the country, coal stockpiles have dwindled, mainly because of problems with shipping coal out of Wyoming and the increase in worldwide demand for energy. ”The article discuss the inability to ship coal on demand. “ But until the rail system can match rail capacity and demand for service, there will be periods where rail shipments can’t keep up ..... ”.

To Source Separate Or Not ?

It appears a logical conclusion that source separation of waste stream components would make more likely their diversion from the landfill. That could be accomplished through legal mandate or personal choice.

You could pass mandatory source separation laws and have “garbage police” enforce those laws. An expensive and probably impractical solution. As demonstrated earlier the present voluntary recycling programs within the City of Toledo and Lucas County Ohio have not been very successful to date. You could have what is sometimes called a PAYT (Pay As You Throw) system of collection. These vary from labor intensive schemes where the garbage is weighed as it is collected to schemes where special collection bags (sometimes color coded) are sold and then collected. All of these collection schemes have the disadvantages of record keeping and added handling expenses. The major advantage is that each individual has an incentive to do source reduction. However, illegal dumping and payment avoidance issues make unlimited pickup more attractive to municipalities, such as Toledo, that just add the cost to the tax bill.

I Have A Dream !

Another way would be to set up a source separation system that to the least extent possible disrupts the normal trash collection regimen. In addition this could be promoted as saving the taxpayers money without changing the basic service. Being a lifelong Toledo resident I remember when the trash collection included the trash collectors going into your back yard and carrying the cans out to the street and after they were emptied returning them to the place they belonged at each individual’s property. So this change in service and source separation trash collection service could be promoted if the political will existed.

City of Toledo residents already are accustomed to only having the recyclable portion of the garbage collected every other week and that could continue. The City of Toledo “Recycling Fleet” could still go around every other week and collect only the Plastic and Metal portion of the waste stream identified in the 2003 state of Ohio study, previously cited, as consisting together of 20% of the trash by weight and 32% by volume.

Using the City of Toledo as an example, this is what I would propose as a source separation collection system. As now the City would collect solid waste every week in every part of the City. However, the City trash collection fleet would be divided into two equal divisions : a “ clean paper fiber fleet “ and “ general all trash fleet “. One week, in your neighborhood, the “ clean fleet “ would only pick up the paper fiber component of the trash with the exception of any wet or food contaminated paper fiber. Any Paper Fiber - dry newspapers, junk mail, magazines, cardboard, nonfood contaminated paper fiber packaging, etc. would be collected. This would be delivered to a Waste Processing Facility (PEF manufacturing facility), rather that the landfill, to be processed into cubes or fuel pellets (28) or made ready for fuel utilization in an electrical power generation plant. The following week the other “general fleet” of garbage trucks would collect all of the remaining waste stream from your neighborhood, and deliver it to the landfill.

Why not just collect the MSW as they do in other parts of the country and then process it removing and diverting the recyclables ? Consider the cost of floor dumping every load and the labor intensive hand sorting to recover recyclables, or even using some future technological advanced day of machine sorting, plus the given of increased cross contamination and loss of paper fiber inherent in such a recovery system. To see such post collection processing machine and plant visit the web site of Lundell Manufacturing. (36) “Lundell’s recycling machine eliminates the need for individual households to separate their recyclables ..... For many communities PEF can be processed and sold at less than what they are currently paying to landfill these residual materials ...... PEF is cleaner burning than coal, and when burned in combination with coal will reduce sulfur emissions inherent in burning coal. This fuel burns between 6000 to 8000 Btu per pound.” MSW collection and post separation diversion vs. source separation; which would you choose ?

Reality Check

Using either system could you ever collect all of the 41% by weight and 44% by volume of paper fiber ? Never ! Some individuals would by choice not participate. In addition even a city as large as Toledo might not generate enough paper fiber for use in co-generation. For example in the year 1989 and 1990 the City of Toledo Division of Solid Waste Annual Reports showed the following tons delivered by the Refuse Collection to the city owned Hoffman Road Landfill :

1989 1990 Average

156,570 tons155,488 tons 156,029 tons

Though these are not current figures, given the low recycling rate in the city, plus increased per capita amount of waste disposed of, minus loss of population means that this is still a good guess at predicting volumes of diverted paper fiber waste available from the Hoffman Road Landfill. Knowing from the Waste Characterization Study (26) that 41% by weight and 44 percent by volume is the paper fiber portion of the waste stream at Hoffman Road, and then assuming a rate of recovery at 30 percent of 156,029 tons, equals 46,808 possible tons of PEF annually. Then 46,808 divided by 1.4 million tons of fuel consumed at J.R. Whiting (31) in an average year equals about 3 percent. This is a very reasonable estimate of the paper fiber that could be converted into fuel available from the City of Toledo waste stream and obviously is not enough. Even all the paper fiber portion going to the Carleton Landfill from Toronto Canada area could only provide about 27 percent of the annual need for a plant like J.R. Whiting when calculated using the previous parameters. So does that mean that this is not a feasible project ? Only if you believe that there are no other sources for the “raw material” to make PEF. Is it too much to imagine that once a facility to make process engineered fuel exists that it will not in fact attract “raw materials”. Imagine not only regional sources of material but, source separated, dedicated “paper fiber” unit trains bringing product from New York to market here at the western end of Lake Erie. There is in fact adequate paper fiber within a one hundred mile radius to make this project very viable and profitable.

To Market ?

Diverting anything long term from the waste stream will only continue to occur if that material can be redirected in a fashion that makes economic and / or environmental sense. Source separation and collection is futile unless there is a steady reliable market for the newly created product. Not only does a market need to exist but it has to make economic sense to participate in diverting material from the waste stream to that market.

If a dependable market were created for paper fiber diverted from the waste stream an incentive would then exist to send the “raw material” from places like New York. The unit trains that transport coal could be substituted, or accompanied, by unit “paper trains” transporting compacted paper fiber from the northeastern states.

MSW collection fees are accomplished through taxation or direct charges / payments for pickup services to individual customers. The total cost of disposal is the cost of collection, plus transport costs, plus the disposal (tipping fee) at a landfill. If the collection fee remains unchanged by “encouraged or mandated” source separation the economic argument is simply the cost of transport and the tipping fee for disposal. If the tipping fee paid to the Waste Processing Facility (PEF manufacturer) is less than the tipping fee for disposal in the landfill then an economic argument is sound.

Hence it is critical to be able to move relatively inexpensively whatever paper fiber you divert from the landfill in a timely fashion. Which is why the use of paper fiber for fuel is logical. Its use as fuel in an electrical power plant is most attractive since it can displace the use of coal and provide cost effective B.T.U.’s while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The argument that paper fiber is not a standard product due to the mix of paper fiber available is answered by the fact that coal even from the same source is not standard and varies dependent upon the soils and vegetation that created it in the first place. The pollutants resultant from combustion vary with paper as they do with coal dependent upon things such as moisture content and temperatures and degree of combustion that occurs. Paper may have environmental advantages in that unlike coal, the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) that is released into the atmosphere is not additional CO2 freed from coal sequestration and permanently added to the atmosphere, but may be recaptured by planting a tree to create more paper. SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide) which is blamed for “acid rain” is another significant emission that paper fiber can mitigate. Also the toxic element Hg (Mercury) is not the issue with paper (though found in some inks) that it appears it will become in the future with coal.

It’s the economy stupid

The need is to create economic incentives for communities that will then mandate and / or encourage diversion of materials from MSW . There are many ways to create the economic incentives to change MSW habits. For example at the state level the need for stretching life expectancy of landfills could be supported and demonstrated by having higher tipping fees for MSW that is not from source separated collection systems. Having mandated source separation does not guarantee that recyclables are removed and recycled if the markets do not exist yet, but makes it more likely that it will occur. Once source separation is practiced the incentive to develop markets grows. Any current collection system could move individuals to source separation by charging a “surcharge” to those customers who do not presort the waste.

In such a system tipping fees could be less per ton if significant, 25% or more of the recyclable materials are diverted from the waste stream, or more logically higher for failure to remove recyclables. The 25% figure in Ohio state law is important because municipalities must demonstrate that all citizens recycle or have the chance to recycle. As volumes from a given source increase the tipping fees could become higher to discourage dumping and encourage diversion. It would appear that treating all sources this way would not interfere with interstate commerce clause and would have the effect of discouraging dumping from Canada. Other proposed incentives would be to site landfills in areas that don’t participate in waste stream diversion rather than those communities that do source separation, pass laws that encourage the use of paper in co-generation, remove limitations on the use of “raw materials” diverted from the waste stream and “reused”.


In order to create the most favorable conditions for using the paper component in a co-generation scheme a steady supply of fairly uncontaminated processed paper is necessary. Working with interested municipalities to pass local ordinances and promote public information on the economic benefits of source separation, third party waste processing companies could receive the raw product and process it it into a product, so a power plant could use it as part of a co-generation scheme. The third party element (or intermediary) is necessary since the amount of paper from one source would most likely be insufficient to meet the quantity and quality demands of an electric power plant. Neither the supplier of the paper fiber or the ultimate end user will be interested in managing such a market, or likely interested in fuel processing headaches.

If it was easy everybody would do it

It is not just a matter of the municipality dropping off their paper at a power plant and it being dumped into the furnace occasionally. In fact as I envision the operation at this time the intermediary Waste Processing (PEF manufacturing) Company would probably need to charge both the municipality and the power plant for the costs associated with creating the processed fuel from diverted landfill paper fiber. Whether the paper can be used as fuel with more limited processing (shredding or hammer mill sizing) to reduce particle size and blown into the combustion chamber; or will need to be formed into consistently shaped pellets or molded cubes (28) using paper fiber (and even some plastic which dramatically increases BTU’s ); will depend on the combustion chamber and operational parameters of the electrical power plant. Issues such as where the designed paper fiber fuel is to be introduced into the combustion process to maximize combustion, optimum operating temperatures, and pollutant management in flue gases and ash residue all will influence the waste processing operation and costs.

Building and running a Waste Processing (PEF manufacturing) Facility isn’t an easy proposition. For example there are many hurdles to be overcome in just building a plant. Considerations: in Monroe County Michigan a Solid Waste Disposal Area Operating License (1/4 of 1% of construction costs); being bonded; and license Application Fee of $ 500, are examples of some things that need to be accomplished to begin. There are state laws, county and township regulations and zoning conditions, funding of site acquisition, material handling facilities, equipment and storage, manufacturing considerations, fire prevention measures, hiring and staffing, etc.

Why should the parties be interested ?

Why do anything when somebody else will have to solve the problem at some indeterminate date in the future ? Imagine that the current cost of landfilling (processing a ton of waste) at the Hoffman Road Landfill is $ 25 per ton. If they paid the Paper Fiber Processing Company $ 15 per ton every time they delivered a ton to the processing plant the municipality in this case the City of Toledo will have reduced its “operations cost” by $ 10 per ton. Is that significant ? Yes when you consider that the life expectancy of the landfill is extended by every ton diverted (15) (3.3 cubic yards of space) and the inherent long term siting and construction and monitoring costs associated with a future landfill are significantly delayed. Incentives for municipalities would be reduced operating costs in the short term and future, longer life expectancy, and potentially lower taxes necessary or money freed for other municipal taxpayer purposes.

In the annual report of the City of Toledo MSW Operations they traditionally have not calculated the actual expense of landfilling. What they have done is take annual landfill daily expenses divided by tons land filled. This is not the true per ton landfill expense since they do not calculate the “capital” expense of creating and closing landfill cells as part of the per ton disposal costs. Even a private collection system with a landfill will divert paper if the costs are less.

Say the electrical power plant would pay $ 10 per ton of diverted paper waste processed to most efficiently combust in their furnace providing the most B.T.U.’s with the fewest pollution by products. Why would the power plant be interested ? The use of paper in a co-generation scheme could reduce SO2 levels, levels of mercury (Hg) emissions, and reduce the amount of CO2 added to the greenhouse gases since trees planted for more paper would use the same amount created. Remember, Coal combustion releases CO2 sequestered millions of years ago permanently into the environment.

The Paper Fiber Processing Company needs to be able to accept delivery of the waste stream material, and turn it into a product ready for the local market in a timely fashion. The processing may require sorting, removal of contaminants, short and / or long term storage, creation of a product (hammer mill or shredding) to create a certain particle size, processing into a pellet or a cube all before injection into the combustion chamber of an electric generating power plant. Also there are construction, storage, processing, staffing and operation issues that require an adequate infusion of resources. Ultimately the “numbers” have to work for all three entities or the project will not be feasible. It may require, dependent upon product demand and use the arrival and unloading of trucks and waste trains of paper fiber from other states.

Elements necessary to create an economic incentive to avoid landfilling : Identify what can be diverted, identify a strategy to divert, identify other uses, provide an economic rationale and incentives, plan with interested parties, educate and promote while responding to critics, construct a facility, and maximize the market. Apathy or inertia has inhibited any action. To date the communities in this region have been happy with the “status quo”, and competitive interests have encouraged more of the same.

For example, recently a study on biofuel was prepared for the Governor and state Ohio General Assembly and never once mentioned the potential of PEF, or diversion of paper fiber from the waste stream and used as renewable energy. The “Biofuel and Renewable Energy Task Force Report March 1, 2004 “ had a brief mention on page 10 “Biomass is any bio-based renewable resource .....solid municipal cellulose waste .....” Even landfill methane gas received more attentionwith “ and landfill gas .... it can be combusted directly to be used for electrical power generation.” Later “ .....86.3 percent of Ohio’s electricity generated is from coal supplies.....” Another opportunity lost. There I go again. Sorry.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Diversion

There are a number of advantages to the diversion of paper fiber from the waste stream. The primary advantage according to Conservatree (15) is ..... “ That one ton of recycled paper also saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, which is increasingly important as many local landfills near their capacity.” Remembering currently however, that the landfill capacities of Michigan and Ohio are so great that at the present time there appears no concern or public awareness for future capacity problems that will need to be addressed. Just the burning of paper reduces the volume of material, ash, that then needs to be land filled.

Another major advantage, other than the obvious of diverting paper fiber from the waste stream and thus reducing the volume of landfill space needed, is that of changing the balance of CO2 emissions. Miner and Lucier (37) state it clearly ..... “When fossil fuels are burned, the transfer of carbon from geologic storage into the biosphere is permanent. As a result, when biomass is used instead of fossil fuel, the avoided fossil fuel CO2 emissions are considered permanent benefits to the atmosphere. Studies of the global carbon cycle often identify biomass energy as being among the most important potential benefits associated with the forest industry value chain ....” They then go on to worry that the use of paper fiber (biomass) for fuel would cause .... - market-distorting public policies that disproportionately favor the use of these materials for their fuel value, - public policies that fail to recognize the direct and indirect economic and social benefits associated with using biomass as a feed stock for forest products manufacturing, ....”. In other words maybe we shouldn’t support this fuel idea to readily. While recognizing the potential for paper fiber as fuel they appear afraid that it might be too successful and interfere with supplies of raw materials to make recycled paper.

Personal experience has demonstrated the reluctance to support changes in the existing marketplace. In 1992 when I proposed to Consumers Energy the use of paper fiber as fuel, a former employer who used recycled newspapers to manufacture blown-in cellulose insulation stated his fear that it would compete with his ability to obtain the raw material for his product at an affordable price. He worked on the project with me for awhile, possibly to protect his interests, and we finally could not get enough parties together committed to proceed with a demonstration project.

Everyone is not going to be supportive of paper fiber diversion efforts. Concerns for personal economic interest in maintaining the “status quo” may work to the detriment of the “bigger picture” of waste stream diversion. Even calling the use of paper fiber a “reuse” of a raw material rather that calling it fuel might sound better to some individuals.

Paper used as Fuel is happening today

An internet advertisement from Iowa demonstrates one positive way of dealing with this issue. They currently are buying scrap paper fiber and saying (38) ..... “Fiber Cubes are made from 100% non-repulpable paper and other hard to recycle material........Prior to the production of these cubes, this material was being land filled at a great environmental cost.”The Fiber Fuel Cubes manufacturer addresses the problem of competition for raw materials by claiming to use a part of the waste stream that cannot be effectively recycled and thus turns a negative into a positive. They even claim to be approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Clearly the case will have to be made that the paper fiber is being generated from increasing diversions from the waste stream and not intended to interrupt existing markets. Market disruptions are inevitable. In fact if the diversion is significant enough it might be possible to “cherry pick” some of the paper fiber to be marketed as high end fiber for the paper recycling market and not use it as fuel because it is a more valuable as a feed stock in such a specialty market. It is estimated to cost eight dollars ($8.00) per dry ton for biomass feed stocks to be transported less than fifty miles.

According to a “Paper Recycling” article (39) written to help the the Department of Defense comply with Executive Order 13101 ..... to incorporate waste prevention and recycling into their daily operations ..... The advantages of using pelletized paper fuel include: a new use for discarded paper; reduction in the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels; paper provides a higher level of heat generation; and because paper contains little Sulfur, its co-firing with coal reduces Sulfur emissions. Paper also produces 10-20% less carbon than coal.”

Diverting paper fiber from landfills has other advantages. Reducing organic wastes reduces landfill methane emissions. Methane gas is a greenhouse gas that is twenty times worse than any other greenhouse gas.

The U.S. EPA (40) believes that “efforts to prevent or utilize methane emissions can provide significant energy, economic and environmental benefits.” Methane (CH4) over a 100 year period is over twenty times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than Carbon Dioxide CO2

Another source (41) claims that“ Biomass burning is currently being developed as an alternative to traditional fossil fuel energy production methods, ...........By making use of a renewable resource, like pine wood chips, and avoiding incomplete combustion, these biomass power stations are able to have a much reduced net greenhouse gas impact compared to equivalent coal, oil, and gas fired power stations.” Paper fiber would work nicely.

Sadly the same basic arguments were made in an article written in Waste Age in 1993 promoting the use of paper-pellets as a substitute for coal. (42) “ ..... a paper-pellet fuel which offers 8500 Btus per pound ...... We are diverting paper from landfills ..... fiber fuel burns cleaner that coal, emitting only 2 percent Sulfur and lower carbon dioxide ....reduction of sulfur and nitrous oxide emissions ..... would let a plant meet clean air act goals without scrubbers or other pollution control equipment, .....” A coal flue scrubber removes 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions from the burning of coal.

Yet in May, of this year 2006, (43) in an article about Savannah River Site owned by the federal Energy Department we hear familiar claims that ..... “Once separated, the paper and plastic is shredded, forming a sort of fluff called “process engineered fuel”. A pellet machine condenses the fluff, making it suitable to burn alongside or in place of coal.” The article then goes on to say that environmental officials get excited because the fuel is much cleaner than coal and could save landfill space, but faces hurdles since .... “The state doesn’t currently issue permits for the “processed fuel” ...” Did someone hear a primal scream ?


One source in a report to the federal Secretaries of Energy and Agriculture (44) makes the claim that “Governments can use three broad tools to effect change : spending, incentives, and regulation ...... virtually all increases in the generation of electricity from biomass are a result of regulations (e.g., federal requirements for the capture of methane from landfills) ..... Co-firing is the least costly way to generate electricity with biomass ..... Significant R&D spending has been dedicated to commercializing co-firing, but efforts have not yet succeeded ..... Various reasons have been offered.”

One reason given why biomass (paper fiber) has not used to fuel power plants (34A) “is that power plant owners have been unable to guarantee access to significant quantities of low-cost biomass fuel using long term contracts. Another is that power plants that co-fire must, according to EPA regulations, upgrade the coal-fired facility to meet more rigorous new performance air emission standards ...... Still another theory is that insufficient R&D has been done to understand the long-term effects of co-firing biomass ..... on power plant equipment.”

The state of Ohio currently offers a Community Development grant as well as a Market Development Grant. Therefore, Ohio is promoting the development of markets with annual grant program that matches a company investment equal to the amount of the grant ....(45) “Market Development Grant applicants, as previously outlined, may apply on behalf of an Ohio business or non-profit organization, which for purposes of this grant program, will be referred to as Cooperating Enterprises. The division has identified potential funding of up to $2 million dollars for community-based grant projects and up to $2 million dollars for market development grant projects.”

Ohio and Michigan could encourage change legislatively. The state of Pennsylvania passed a law in 2004 requiring the state electric utilities to obtain renewable and alternative energy sources for a percentage of their electrical supply by 2019. According to Tomczyck, (28) “Generally, PEF made from one or more source separated types of post consumer materials such as paper, is still considered MSW by the Clean Air Act and therefore falls under the 30 percent by weight of MSW ...... Direct government incentives or mandates have been established in the past to encourage the use of renewable fuels such as PEF.”

Consumers Energy on their web site talks about a Green Generation program to purchase additional renewable energy made in Michigan, though they make clear that they do not own or operate the renewable power generators.


This P.A.P.E.R. is written not to change human or bureaucratic behavior(s) but to present an alternative proposal for MSW processing that has as an added benefit the potential to extend landfill life expectancy by up to 50 percent while reducing the cost of a landfill operation. Possible additional benefits of reduced air and water pollution appear to have been obviously demonstrated. The economic case could be evaluated if a source of paper to be diverted could be directed to an electrical generation plant that would substitute paper fiber for coal. Initial test burns could demonstrate actual conditions mandating product production. Then long term contracts to guarantee the raw material produced for the market and long term contracts to guarantee the market as an outlet for raw material diversion. Otherwise it will not be possible to raise the capital to build the necessary Waste Processing Facility.

Initial source separation of the MSW paper component is not the critical limiting element though an important economic consideration. The MSW could always be collected, and then sorted through as it currently is in some places, however that would appear to be economically unattractive in the long term and result in less material diverted from the waste stream due to cross-contamination by other components of the MSW stream.

More important and ultimately the key to changing our historical pattern of discarding by dumping trash in a landfill is having somewhere for that trash to go other than that landfill. If we start to envision the landfill only as the destination of last resort, we can then envision at least part of the waste stream becoming product(s). With the creation of stable market(s) the raw material and the product acquire economic value. This is exemplified by what cash deposits on containers did in Michigan and some other states for some recyclables, while not in Ohio because cash deposits were lobbied against by the container industries. Container deposits provided an incentive in some areas of the country to redirect the flow of a part of the waste stream, primarily aluminum and glass, from discards going to the landfill, to raw materials to be reprocessed. Aluminum and copper recycling rates, while the most obvious success stories, are demonstrative of the basic principle involving diversion from the waste stream. The need is to create markets for other elements of the waste stream to provide an economic, or social incentive, to divert them into another life as a raw material, conserving landfill space.

The actual statistics cited in the various sources I consulted sometimes vary slightly from source to source and report to report. For example, the U.S. EPA cites paper as about 35 percent of the MSW, another source uses the figure of 39 percent, and still another 41 percent. Different sources claim methane (CH4) is 20 times, another 21 times, another 23 times, more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). In the past, and presently, some of the “data” results from estimates or guesstimates. It wasn’t until 1996 that the state of Michigan passed Public Act 359, amending the state Solid Waste Management Act , requiring landfills to report the amount of waste received from all sources and geographic locations. It has only been in the last few years that real data and research has accumulated on solid waste issues.

However some prevailing themes appear to be true. Landfilling is and will remain the most prevalent disposal method. Sanitary landfilling of man made toxins is critical to protecting the environment and limiting pollution of water and air. The amount of waste generated is increasing over time due to an increasing population, a more disposable throw away lifestyle, and the lack of diversion markets. Recently the weight of trash thrown away has been reduced by reduced packaging (ex. “lightweighting” - lighter aluminum cans and thinner plastic) but the volume is still increasing over time.

Landfills are and will be the preferred method of disposal but the serious environmental and political problems with landfills will not disappear. The cost of creating and siting landfills will continue to increase due to more rigid environmental mandates compounded by ever more toxic man made materials and public policy issues, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome. Burning MSW in Waste to Energy plants has limitations, as does incineration, due to resultant environmental and pollution problems caused by contaminants when trying to burn everything, even things that will not burn limiting energy returns from the process. Collecting and then sorting MSW is limited by the increasing costs of manpower to hand sort and the high technological cost of mechanical sorting. In addition finding and creating markets for products and transportation costs limit the economic viability of waste stream diversion especially in rural areas as opposed to urban areas. Ultimately the interest in and ability to utilize source separation strategies will devolve to economic considerations in addition to the positive environmental considerations of diversion. The political will needs to exist to help divert the raw materials necessary to create a stable market. A reliable stable market will create the political will to divert part of the waste stream from the landfill. This becomes a chicken and egg argument about what needs happen first.


Landfill life expectancy may be significantly increased by source separation and the reduction of three materials : paper, plastics, and metal. The most obvious and greatest of these is paper. The environmental impact of diverting paper from the waste stream has been recognized for some time as generally positive and the potential impact on emissions and greenhouse gases is enormous. Stable markets need to be created for the raw materials diverted from the waste stream. Much remains to be done to demonstrate the viability of this approach to the citizens and communities of this region of Lake Erie. To date the idea has not generated action. What will it take ?

To date some of the “real” costs of coal use have not been charged to coal. (46) A report by the Michigan Environmental Council (1999) states ..... “ There is a disconnect between ‘clean’ electricity and the dirty coal used to generate the majority of our electricity in Michigan ..... the electric industry remains the dominant source of air pollution ...... Power plant pollution contributes to health and environmental impacts, such as aggravation of asthma, contamination of Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes, unhealthy ozone smog, acid rain, premature death, and global climate change. ” For example, the environmental degradation from “acid rain” caused by high levels of Sulfur emissions, the economic impact of global warming, the health damage to humans from air and water pollution (from particulate matter and mercury), all are measurable with an economic cost to society. When the fossil fuel sources of these environmental impacts are made to pay the true cost of the pollution created, through mandated updated technological fixes such as improved and more efficient pollution control, limited coal sources, and other mediation devices, the true cost of coal will make other energy sources more viable. Michigan Environmental Council (1999) (46) further makes the point that “Current policy encourages the continued operation and planned restarts of older, dirty coal-burning power plants due to their exemptions from modern pollution control requirements ..... The historic grandfathering loophole accords older, high polluting plants an unfair economic advantage over cleaner coal plants and alternative fuels.” The article then lists “Michigan’s dirty dozen coal plants ..... that “legally” pollute at rates three to seven times higher than new plants with modern emission controls.” In the Dirty Dozen list we find J.R. Whiting in Monroe County Michigan listed as number five for Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) at 0.65 lb/mm BTU compared to a 0.15 New Source (NOx) Emission Rate. J.R. Whiting is also listed at number three for Sulfur Oxides (SO2) at 1.28 lb/mm BTU compared to a 0.30 New Source (SO2) Emission Rate. So could paper fiber make a difference ?

The current permissive regulatory climate for coal burning generation plants will not continue indefinitely. The “Clean Skies Initiative” and trading pollution credits delays the day of dramatically limiting and reducing greenhouse emissions. The United States Supreme Court is to decide soon whether the U. S. government should be forced to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The continued denying of scientific and observational evidence for “global warming” and institutional delay in actions dealing with “greenhouse gases” will end someday. The high environmental cost of gas-fired electric generating power plants, the need for construction of newer more environmental coal fired plants, as well as the need to extend the life and retrofit current coal fired plants will make the economics of paper fiber used as fuel a necessary component in air and water pollution mitigation. This region could be a leader in that effort.

A working coal plant in Rochester, Minnesota
A working coal plant in Rochester, Minnesota

Project Findings Repeated

The environmental impact of using paper fiber as fuel is obviously positive and practical when compared to current fossil fuel practices. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is significant.

Landfill life expectancy may be dramatically increased by diversion of raw materials from the waste stream and the creation of “products” from the “raw materials” currently landfilled.

Using paper fiber as fuel reduces the amount of CO2 permanently released into the environment compared to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, that are not renewable.

PEF (Process Engineered Fuel) generates significantly less Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) which causes “Acid Rain” when compared to using Coal as fuel. The benefits of PEF are demonstrable.

Reducing methane releases from landfills is critical due to its impact of over twenty times the effect of a greenhouse gas. The less paper fiber landfilled the less greenhouse gas eventually created by, and need for, fewer landfills.

Mercury emissions from coal combustion could be significantly impacted by reducing coal use.

Ohio and Michigan could mitigate the effect waste dumping has on landfill life expectancy and create jobs for citizens in their states with renewable waste stream diversion.

There appear to be no environmental or technological hurdles preventing the diversion and use of paper fiber as fuel. Identifying interested “parties” who will participate appears critical since once source cannot provide enough “raw material”.

Given current regulations it appears that PEF could replace only up to 30 percent of the coal currently used in electric power plants.

With landfills plentiful, and profitable locally, with life expectancy of 30 + years in the western Lake Erie region , who presently cares ?

Follow the money

The next step would be to identify those who would gain economically from the proposal and convince them there is money to be made. If landfills are more profitable they will remain the destination of choice. If diversion can be shown to be more profitable for all the parties then that will be a destination of choice. Unfortunately the effects of Global Warming to date have not been quantified as to economic costs.

David J. Neuendorff

July 28, 2006

Thank You !

P.S. Please excuse my verbose explanation. I have literally gone through reams of paper making copies of articles and gathering information to prepare this report. Hopefully I have addressed the areas necessary to make a coherent argument. Though there are many other things that could have added, it is time to stop.

Thank you to Owens Community College and especially Dr. Mary Kaczinski for her help in completing this independent study, by giving me the opportunity to explore this issue of personal interest more thoroughly.



July 28, 2006

Photos from Wikipedia.

Author's Final Thoughts

The intent of this Hub is to share with others the proposal that we could reduce Global Warming by using paper diverted from our landfills as fuel in place of coal. Using (reusing / recycling) paper in this fashion prevents the burning of coal releasing CO2 that has been sequestered for millions of years.


All Rights Reserved

Originally Written : July 28, 2006

Hub Published : January 17, 2012

David J. Neuendorff

References and Resources

Note some of these links may no longer be valid since this report was done in 2006.

(1)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA“Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States : Facts and Figures for 2003”

(2)Department of Energy Energy Information AdministrationEnergy Kid’s Page “Energy & Waste - Landfilling”

Accessed 6-12-06 :

(3)Rotten Truth (About Garbage) : “A Garbage Timeline”

The Rotten Truth Website was created in 1998 by the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(4)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wastes “Solid Waste Landfills”.

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(5)Daniel P. Duffy MSW Management The Journal for Municipal Solid Waste Professionals “Landfill Economics Part I : Siting”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(6)Daniel P. Duffy MSW Management The Journal for Municipal Solid Waste Professionals “Landfill Economics Part II : Getting Down to Business “ Page 6

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(7)City of Phoenix Solid Waste Disposal Facilities Descriptions “Frequently Asked Landfill / Disposal Questions”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(8)City Of Lawrence Lawrence, Kansas “frequently asked questions”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(9)Monroe Count Health Department Environmental Health Division

“2001 Monroe County Solid Waste Management PlanMonroe County, Michigan”

Pages II-28, A-14 through A-15

(10)Wikipedia , the fee encyclopedia “Waste Management”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(11)Sustainable “The State of Garbage in America”. June 29, 2006.

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(12)Congressional Research Service Report for Congress ”Interstate Shipment of Municipal Waste : 1995 Update”

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(13)Congressional Research Service Report for Congress ”Table 3. Net Imports / Exports of Municipal Solid Waste, 1997 of the latest year (in tons)”

Accessed 7-5-06 : Re-Accessed 7-18-06 :

(14) Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Waste and Hazardous Materials DivisionJanuary 30, 2004


(15)Conservatree. “Environmentally Sound Paper Overview : Essential Issues Part III - Making Paper : Content “

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(16)Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Waste and Hazardous Materials DivisionMap by David Brooks“Landfills in Michigan”

(17) Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Waste and Hazardous Materials DivisionJanuary 31, 2006

“REPORT OF SOLID WASTE LANDFILLED IN MICHIGAN OCTOBER 1, 2004 - SEPTEMBER 30, 2005”Page 3: Table 2 Page 27: Carleton Farms Landfill

(18)Edward Repa Waste Age “Keeping It Moving”

November 1, 2003 Accessed 7-5-06 :

(19)Interdisciplinary Modules to Teach Waste or Residue Management in the Food Chain

Module 4: Economics of Wastes/Residues in Food Processing and FoodService Facilities “COSTS OF DISPOSAL OF WASTES AND RESIDUES.”

Accessed 7-5-06 : Table 4.3

(20)Wood County Solid Waste Management District. Landfill Info. “Disposal Fees”


(21)See Toledo The Official Site of the City of Toledo “Hoffman Road Landfill”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(22)Tom Henry Toledo Blade Article published 7/08/2002. “Trash in, cash out Landfills want to expand, but garbage imports rankle”

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(23)Testimony of Christopher Jones Director, Ohio EPA before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials July 23, 2003

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(24)Robert Roy Britt Senior Science Writer “Space Junk” Posted October 19, 2000.

(25)See Toledo The Official Site of the City of Toledo “Updated Agenda Summary - February 28, 2006.” Action items 92-06; 93-06; 94-06; 95-06; 96-06.

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(26)Ohio Deparment of Natural Resources Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention

“What’s In Our Garbage ? : Ohio’s Waste Characterization Study Executive Summary”

Accessed 6-12-06 :


(“ What’s In Our Garbage ? “ Ohio’s Waste Characterization Study Executive Summary 2003

(27)Tahree Lane Toledo Blade “Recycle it, don’t toss it”

Article published Sunday May 7, 2006.

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(28)Laurie Tomczyck, P. E., Solid Waste Technologies, January/February 1997 “Engineered Fuel : Renewable Fuel of the Future”

Accessed 6-12-06 :

(29)Department of Energy Energy Information Administration / Annual Energy Review 2004

GRAPH : “Figure 7.8 Coal Prices”

(30)Department of Energy Energy Information AdministrationEnergy Kid’s Page “Coal -- A Fossil Fuel”

Accessed 6-12-06 :

(31)Fossil Fuels -J.R. Whiting Generating Plant Erie Michigan

Accessed 7-24-06 :

(32)The Patriot News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Article : “Study Blasts Growing Use Of Coal-Fired Power Plants” July 24, 2004

Accessed 6-12-06 :

(33)John Klungness, Matthew Stroika, and Said AbuBakr.USDA Forest Service.

Forest Products Laboratory Madison Wisconsin. 53705-2398

1999 International Environmental Conference. “Reduction Of Greenhouse Gases by Fiber-Loaded Lightwieght, High-Opacity Newsprint Production”

(34)National Mining AssociationWashington D.C. “Commitment to Continued Mercury Emissions Reductions, and Air Quality Improvement”

(35)Associated Press. (“ Railroads struggle to fill power plants’ need for coal “ Toledo Blade Tuesday June 13, 2006

(36)Lundell Manufacturing“Recycling Lundell Recycling Systems”

“Lundell Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) Plant”

Accessed 7-24-06 :

(37)Reid Miner and Alan Lucier NCASI. June 2004. “A Value Chain Assessment of Climate Change and Energy Issues Affecting the Gobal Forest-Based Industry A Report to the WBCSD Sustainable Forest Products Industry Working Group”. Page 4.

(38)Fiber Fuels Web Advertisement City Carton Recycling Updated March 14, 2006 Accessed 7-5-06 :

(39)Joint Service Pollution Prevention Opportunity Handbook. “Paper Recycling”

Accessed 7-5-06 :

(40)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Methane”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(41)GHG Online “Methane Sources - Biomass Burning”

Accessed 7-11-06 :

(42)David Davenport Waste Age “WASTE ENERGY : Paper-Derived Fuels Prove A Cleaner Burn”

Accessed 6-12-06 :

(43)Government Innovators Network : Article The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) May 12, 2006

“Turning trash in treasure garbage may lead to alternative fuel”

Accessed 7-24-06 :


(44)David MorrisExecutive Summary of the Minority Report of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee“The Carbohydrate Economy” January 10, 2002

Accessed 7-24-06 :

(45)Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention.

“Application Package”

Accessed 6-12-06 :

Cover Pages Shown : Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention. “Ohio Recycling & Litter Prevention Grants 2006 Community Development Grant Market Development Grant Application Handbook”. 2006

(46)Sally Billups and David Wright A report by the Michigan Environmental Council “The trouble with coal : Michigan needs cleaner power choices” September 1999

Accessed 7-24-06 :

Reducing Global Warming

The intent of this Hub is to share with others the proposal that we could reduce Global Warming by using paper diverted from our landfills as fuel in place of coal. Using (reusing / recycling) paper in this fashion prevents the burning of coal releasing CO2 that has been sequestered for millions of years.


All Rights Reserved

Originally Written : July 28, 2006

Hub Published : January 17, 2012

Hub Re-Visited : November 16, 2014

Hub Re-Visited : August 9, 2015

Hub Re-Visited : December 30, 2016

David J. Neuendorff


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