SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Kathleen Carroll has a lot on her plate. The business manager for Covanta Onondaga spends her days traveling to multiple Covanta facilities across the nation, organizing events, and giving tours to spread the word about her company’s mission. And she would not give up any of that in the world.
“Everybody has each other’s backs,” Carroll said. “And it’s really, I think it’s a great place to work. I like it.”
She has plenty of reasons to be proud of her work. Covanta Onondaga, in partnership with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, or OCRRA, have been turning regular trash into electricity that powers more than 10% of the county. Throughout the past 25 years of inconsistent environmental policies in the US, Onondaga County has stayed ahead of the curve and committed to using sustainable practices in order to create a better future.
Kristen Lawton, the Public Information Officer for OCRRA, said that the revenue created from the use of electricity and efficiency has allowed for the county to focus on educating the people of Onondaga County about safe recycling practices.
“We can help the community understand what is recyclable, what belongs in your blue bin,” Lawton said.
Carroll believes that it makes no sense to put waste into a landfill when it can be used to create sustainable power.
“I just think it’s a disservice to the environment,” Carroll said. “Yes, you have a liner, but really, you’re putting in the ground. You’re taking away natural resources. You’re taking land that could otherwise be used for farming, for housing, for recreational activities. To me, it just doesn’t make sense.”
For someone who has been at this facility since day one, Carroll makes perfect sense. Everyday, trucks enter the facility and dump their trash in the holding area. Once there, the trash is compartmentalized and then placed either in a boiler room to be made into electricity or burned into ash. That ash is used to cover landfills elsewhere, which creates a more natural, sustainable cap for landfills than mining for shale.
The trucks that come through the station are checked for radiation, measured (to keep track of the amount of trash entering the facility each day), dumped and move through the facilities within ten minutes of arrival.
In the future, that ash could potentially be used to make concrete, hopefully within the next five years , making even more sustainable growth. The need to innovate is how Covanta has supported Onondaga County’s work to maintain our environment.
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