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What Happens to Our Trash?

What Happens to Our Trash?

So you’ve recycled as much material as you can but are still some non-recyclables that are being thrown in the trash. Do you ever wonder where all of the trash generated on our campus goes? Here's what happens:

  • Our non-recyclable material (“trash” or “municipal solid waste”) is collected in dumpsters across the Bentley campus.
  • Casella empties the dumpsters and transports the trash to a Covanta Waste-to-Energy facility in Massachusetts. At the facility, trash is combusted at a high temperature creating steam that turns turbines to generate electricity.
  • For every 10 tons of municipal solid waste burned 5,200 kWh of power is generated.
  • Electricity is fed back into the grid and is used to power homes and businesses.

Wait, if our trash is being used to generate energy, why should I recycle?

Despite the benefits of the waste-to-energy process, recycling is still found to have far greater net energy savings than waste-to-energy processes. Research shows that taken together, the manufacture of products from recycled materials plus the processes of recycling, use considerably less energy than the manufacture of new products from virgin sources, plus the incineration of those products in a waste-to-energy facility.

The energy savings are due mostly to the substantial reduction in energy use associated with manufacturing products from recycled materials, relative to manufacturing products from virgin materials.

So what should we be doing?

  • Think about your consumption of goods and choose to buy items which have less packaging or a longer life span (rather than single-use items); this way you are creating less waste in the first place.
  • After reducing the amount of material that you use, recycle as much material as possible to keep re-usable material in the product stream.
  • Only put items which cannot be recycled in the trash cans or dumpsters.

Return to Recycling Page