This report presents the results of a study that examined alternatives to landfilling the municipal solid wastes (MSW) of New York City. Detailed characterization of the wastes led to their classification, according to materials properties and inherent value, to “recyclable”, “compostable”, “combustible”, and “landfillable”. The results showed that the present rates of recycling (16.6%) and combustion (12.4%) in New York City can be increased by a) implementing an automated, modern Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that separates the blue bag stream to “recyclables” and “combustibles”, and b) combusting the non-recyclable materials in a Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facility. Combustion of wastes to produce electricity is environmentally much preferable to landfilling. An advanced technology for combustion is that used in a modern Waste-to-Energy plant (SEMASS, Massachusetts) that processes 0.9 million metric tons of MSW per year, generates a net of 610 kWh per metric ton of MSW, recovers ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and has lower emissions than many coal-fired power plants.

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