Kathy Lambert is a King County Councilmember. She joins us as a “Wire Insider” to discuss renewable energy and technologies to manage waste.
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“What keeps me up at night is that we are going to have a landfill close. It’s full, and it’s at its capacity. And so, we need to be able to know what are we going to do with our garbage. Not only for the next 20 years or 30 years, but all the time, with our garbage.
And, as I look around the rest of the world, they have come up with some technologies that are very exciting. They have byproducts from the garbage, they have energy that they’re producing. When I was in Copenhagen, I was on Embassy Row, and I was shocked that here is this waste-to-energy plant in the middle of Embassy Row. And I said, ‘How did you do that? And they said, because they know it’s a net cleaner of the air, and they get their power from the power that is generated off of the waste-to-energy plant.
So, there’s a recycling that needs to be done, and we are not leading the world in recycling. And we should be, because we know how important that is. So there’s recycling and reuse, but there’s also reclaiming. After a while, the fibers cannot be reclaimed. And so, in some things — and like in plastics — you get a lot of energy from the materials when you put it into a waste-to-energy plant, and that gives you plenty of energy to make things that are new.
So, we need to be looking at all the ways that we can recycle, reclaim, and reuse — as well as be able to reclaim — the energy that are in these byproducts. Right now, we have over 900 acres in King County where we dump our garbage, much like Fred Flintstone. We’ve come a little bit further than that, in that we try to get some of the methane, but there’s a very large difference in what people say about how much methane we’re really being able to claim. Whatever we’re claiming, there’s still a lot of methane going into the air that would not be if we were processing it in a thermal reclamation center.”