Plymouth: Sheriff’s waste-to-energy operation could ease town’s disposal problems

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A process known as gasification, that converts trash into energy, is now being tested at the Plymouth County Jail. This conversion system—using waste generated at the jail –is a technology developed by the military to deal with solid waste issues at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The gasification process is expected to be in operation by the beginning of next year. Sheriff Joseph McDonald talks about the kind of trash that can be used to feed the system to produce energy:

“Household trash could be used—anything non-metallic could go into the machine to create energy. But, we have a very active recycling program. We want to make sure we’re taking recyclables out of that waste stream before we feed it in there—convert it into a gas—and we’re going to use that to create energy for the daily operations of the jail.”

And the cost saving potential of the machine, called the GEM, is great:

“Initially the machine is going to be saving us thousands and I think ultimately depending upon what uses we’re able to find, this is going to be tens of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars saved annually.”

Will you need another trash source, and if so would you accept household trash from Plymouth?

“We’re told that the machine can handle upwards of three tons of trash per day. We’re only generating about half that and once we get the machine working at capacity, we would be able to look to other sources for that trash—and because Plymouth is our host community—we’d like to take some of that trash off of the hands of the town of Plymouth and utilize it as a resource.”

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About Bobbi Clark

Bobbi Clark is a Plymouth area reporter at WATD. She began her career in radio as a producer at a news/talk radio station in Chicago. From there she went to WMAQ-TV, the NBC owned and operated television station in Chicago, As a producer there, she won 5 Emmy Awards for production of special programming. Bobbi is a graduate of Emerson College, with a degree in Writing, Publishing and Literature.