Innovation

It’s often said that waste is simply a resource out of place. That’s the idea behind a series of investments we have made over the past decade in companies focused on transforming certain materials in the waste stream into materials of higher value. Our venturing team has created a portfolio of investments that matches our business strengths with broader market opportunities. For several of these investments, we already have graduated from pilot and demonstration phases to “commercialization,” where the technology is ready to grow to a full, large-volume production scale. Following is an overview of these investments.

Fulcrum BioEnergy, LLC

Fulcrum processes municipal solid waste (MSW) into an engineered feedstock, which they gasify and convert into renewable crude. This renewable crude can then be further refined into low-carbon, drop-in jet and diesel fuels. A part of our portfolio since 2011, Fulcrum is constructing its first commercial plant near Reno, Nevada, and will be operational in 2018. This plant will convert approximately 550 tons per day of MSW-derived feedstock, most of which we will supply, into 800 barrels of renewable crude per day.

Enerkem Alberta Biofuels

Enerkem converts non-recyclable MSW into clean fuels and renewable chemicals. Enerkem Alberta Biofuels is the world’s first commercial biorefinery to use MSW to produce methanol and ethanol. This facility in Edmonton, Canada, began producing methanol from waste in 2015 and has a potential annual output of 10 million gallons of biofuels used for transportation, or renewable chemicals for everyday product applications. The company plans to develop similar facilities in North America and abroad.

SpecFUEL®

We continue to explore innovative ways to harvest the thermal energy from residual material that arrives for disposal at our landfills. SpecFUEL is a highly engineered fuel devised for use in industrial boilers and kilns. In these applications it can be used to supplement – or replace – fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum coke. SpecFUEL is composed of 99 percent or greater postrecycle paper, cardboard and plastics in rigid, foam and film form. It is produced using a 13-step process involving sophisticated sorting equipment that removes recyclable metals, organics, PVC plastic and inert materials that are unsuitable for fuel. The remaining paper and plastic materials are then transformed into uniform, high-quality, high-energy fuel.

SpecFUEL possesses a significantly lower sulfur content than coal. Employing it as a replacement can cut emissions of air pollutants and reduce GHG emissions by 15 percent on a lifecycle basis. SpecFUEL production from a single plant can result in annual energy savings of the equivalent of more than 160,000 tons of coal, the energy equivalent of powering more than 39,000 homes for one year. Our SpecFUEL plant in Philadelphia is an important part of the city’s sustainability initiatives. Nationwide in 2015 we produced and sold some 3,650 tons of this material.

Since opening the plant in Philadelphia in 2014, we’ve continued to sell SpecFUEL product to cement kilns and commenced a combustion trial with an independent power producer. We’ve also formed a joint venture, SpecFUEL Partners, LLC, to pursue the development of additional plants and for which we will provide feedstock and residuals management.

Characteristic SpecFUEL U.S. Coal
Heat Value (BTU) 7,500 – 12,500 8,000 – 14,500
Moisture Content
(Percentage, by weight)
10 – 20 2 – 20
Ash (Percentage, by weight) 2 – 15 3 – 16
Sulfur (Percentage, by weight) 0.02 – 0.2 0.5 – 4.7
Halogen (Percentage, by weight) 0.03 – 0.5 0.01 – 0.9
Density (Pounds / Cubic Foot) ~ 20-24 ~ 81.25

ENVIA Energy

In 2015, we entered into a joint venture partnership with Velocys, PLS, to create Envia Energy and announced the groundbreaking for its first gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant, located adjacent to our East Oak landfill site in Oklahoma City. Commercial operation is expected in 2016. Renewable, ultra-clean fuels and chemicals produced by the plant will deliver significant lifecycle GHG reductions over conventionally produced fuels. The project is at the forefront of smaller-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies that turn natural gas into premium liquid products. Smaller scale GTL adds value to shale gas and makes use of stranded or flared gas more economical – an untapped market of up to 25 million barrels per day. Velocys technology, protected by over 900 patents, can be used to unlock gas resources of 15,000 to 150,000 MMBtu per day.