Public Works is actively working with local partners to promote the development of conversion technology facilities in the County of Los Angeles. Conversion technologies are a wide array of technologies capable of converting post recycled or residual solid waste into useful products, green fuels, and renewable energy through non-combustion thermal, chemical, mechanical and/or biological processes.
Conversion technologies have successfully operated for decades throughout the world, primarily in Europe and Asia, as a way to divert materials away from landfills for use as energy, biofuels, and other useful products. Community-scale conversion technology facilities also reduce environmental impacts such as emissions associated with long-distance trucking of waste and create local green‐collar jobs. The Department has vetted various conversion technologies, assessed potential project sites, worked with local and State agencies to create a permitting pathway for the technologies, and created a countywide public outreach plan to educate stakeholders about the benefit of these technologies.
Promotion and development of conversion technology is a key component of the Department’s roadmap towards a sustainable and waste-free future and an important element of the Department’s strategy for maintaining adequate disposal capacity in the County. More information about the County’s conversion technology efforts is available at www.SoCalConversion.org.
Benefits to Environmental Resources
- Overall Environmental Enhancement. Conversion technologies provide a sustainable alternative to landfills. Conversion technology facilities can be located in manufacturing zone sites as small as one-acre.
- Less Pollution. Advanced emissions controls enable conversion technology facilities to process waste and produce energy far more efficiently than landfills. Conversion technologies also reduce air emissions, including GHG emissions in multiple ways: diverting waste from landfills where GHG and other emissions would be generated; reducing diesel trucking of waste; and displacing fossil fuels used for transportation and energy production. As a result, on a net basis, conversion technologies result in cleaner air by offsetting higher emissions from other sources such as coal power plants or petroleum extraction, refining and combustion.
- Waste Reduction and Recycling. Conversion technologies have flexibility in the volume and type of waste they process. Most conversion technologies can process a variety of feedstocks, such as municipal solid waste, medical waste, tires, bio solids, purpose grown energy crops, forest thinnings, and crop residues. Conversion technologies can even blend several feedstocks together, and manage materials that are not otherwise recyclable. Conversion technologies are also complementary to recycling by separating glass, metal and other inert materials prior to the conversion process for recycling as well as recovering inert materials through the conversion process that would otherwise be too small or contaminated to recover from the waste stream.
- Renewable Energy. Conversion technologies produce fuels and electricity from a renewable supply of post-recycled materials that would otherwise be landfilled. The USEPA and the State of California, among many other states that have renewable energy programs, have all classified municipal solid waste as a renewable resource. Electrical energy produced by conversion technologies can offset electrical energy produced from fossil fuels while producing base-load power, thereby accelerating a transition to renewable energy.
Contribution to wellbeing of DPW and the County
- Increased Diversion From Landfills. Conversion technologies process post recycled residual materials that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. Diverting more waste from landfills enhances the existing remaining Landfill capacity, reduces the need to build new landfills in existing communities, and reduces our dependence on Landfills as the only choice alternative to managing residual waste.
- Reduction of Truck Trips and Air Pollution. Conversion technologies can provide a local solution that eliminates the need to transport waste to far away jurisdictions thereby reducing truck traffic, noise, and pollution to local communities.
- Providing Amenities to the Community. Conversion technology facilities can enhance existing communities by reducing air emissions, reducing waste, creating local sources of renewable fuel and energy, and providing other community amenities, as may be desirable, such as a community center where workshops can be held on recycling, composting, and smart gardening techniques.
Contribution to Economic Health
- Creating Green Jobs. Conversion technologies support the recycling industry and will create good quality green jobs at materials recovery facilities as well as conversion technology plants.
- New Domestic Source of Energy and Fuels. Conversion technologies will convert waste which was previously placed in a landfill into electricity and clean burning fuels.
- Funding for Program Administration. The program is funded through fees collected from Solid Waste facilities Countywide.