Wind energy powerhouse Vestas announces plans for ‘zero-waste’ turbines

Danish firm Vestas said Monday that it was aiming to produce “zero-waste” wind turbines by the year 2040.

The wind turbine manufacturer explained that its goal would mean operating a value chain that produced no waste materials.

This, it added in a statement, would be achieved through the introduction of a “circular economy approach” in the design, production, service and end-of-life parts of the value chain.

The Aarhaus-headquartered firm added that it would present its new waste-management strategy in the next two years.

“As the world’s largest supplier of wind energy, Vestas has a responsibility to eliminate waste across its value chain,” Tommy Rahbek Nielsen, who is interim chief operations officer at Vestas, said in a statement.

“Wind energy will continue to grow rapidly, therefore the time for a conservative approach is behind us,” he added.

Vestas’ aim for zero-waste wind turbines points to a significant challenge faced by the industry. For while turbines produce renewable energy, their construction does have an environmental impact.

As the wind industry develops — the International Energy Agency recently said that the offshore sector looked set to become a $1 trillion business by 2040 — it will face mounting challenges when it comes to waste.

Take a turbine’s blades. A 2017 research paper from the University of Cambridge, which was cited by Vestas on Monday, found that waste produced by wind turbine blades could hit an estimated 43.4 million tons by the year 2050. The research looked at waste produced by factors such as the manufacturing process, operation and maintenance as well as the end of a blade’s life.

Wind energy is just one of many industries aiming to reduce waste and mitigate environmental impacts. Last October, for example, consumer goods giant Unilever said it would halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025.

The business, whose brands include Dove, Ben Jerry’s and Lipton, said it would achieve this by cutting its “absolute use of plastic packaging” by over 100,000 tons and “accelerating its use of recycled plastic.” Virgin plastics are produced using raw materials, rather than recycled ones.

The Anglo-Dutch firm also vowed to “help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.”

Utility provider offers eco-friendly resolutions for 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A man walks his dogs in Colorado Springs. Resolve to become eco-friendly this year with tips from Colorado Springs Utilities. (Courtesy photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A man walks his dogs in Colorado Springs. Resolve to become eco-friendly this year with tips from Colorado Springs Utilities. (Courtesy photo)

Colorado Springs Utilities

Editor’s note: The following article and photo are courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities, Fort Carson’s utility provider. For more information about Springs Utilities or the initiatives outlined, visit or @csutilities.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — While January 2020 is the time for many to reflect on the past year and set goals for the months ahead, consider some eco-friendly resolutions this year. These practices promote sustainability and reduce overall environmental impact. In some cases, these habits can help save money, too.

Power everyday life with solar energy

Colorado receives about 300 days of sun per year — an excellent platform for solar power. Solar energy helps protect the environment, diversifies the local energy supply and creates energy independence.

Fort Carson Colorado Springs Utilities electric customers who live off post can now participate in a new Green Power program, a voluntary program that allows customers to designate a percentage of their monthly electric use to be generated by solar energy. Subscribers make a positive impact on the environment by participating.

This service is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To enroll, call 719-448-4800.

This provides options to those who can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their home or business, but who still want to support renewable energy.


Recycling has many benefits, such as reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserving natural resources, saving energy and preventing pollution.

In addition to everyday household waste such as paper and plastic containers, remember to responsibly recycle appliances and electronics. Springs Utilities offers a $50 rebate for recycling old, inefficient refrigerator or freezers. This program ensures that refrigerants, oils and other compounds are properly removed and reclaimed.

Springs Utilities also offers a toilet recycling program for anyone installing a newer, more water-efficient commode. Recycled toilets are crushed by utilities and used as road base — saving environmental resources, reducing waste to landfill and saving money for new materials.

Go electric

Gas powered vehicles emit greenhouse gases and pollutants. Electric vehicles have a smaller environ­mental impact than conventional vehicles because they do not produce carbon and other emissions directly from their tailpipes.

State and federal incentives are available for people purchasing electric vehicles, making them a practical choice for those looking to purchase their next car. With the average commute in Colorado Springs at about 6 miles, a typical driver would only need to charge their electric vehicle about once a week.

Public charging stations and workplace charging options in Colorado Springs are growing in popularity, providing on-the-go options to charge. There are apps online to help electric vehicle owners find all nearby charging stations, regardless of company affiliation.

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Oregon WTE Facility May Get Renewable Energy Status

Oregon lawmakers are giving Covanta’s waste-to-energy (WTE) facility in Marion County another chance to be treated as a renewable energy source.

According to a Salem Reporter article, State Rep. Brian Clem confirmed that a proposal is in the works to deem the WTE facility as a renewable energy source when lawmakers convene their short legislative session in February.

If passed, the legislation would allow Covanta to sell some of its electricity at a premium. Without it, the report notes, officials claim they’d have to charge Marion County higher disposal fees or close the facility altogether.

Last year, the same proposal passed the state Senate but never made it out of the House. The latest proposal “declares that the only material that could be considered for treatment as premium ‘renewable’ electricity would be organic material like yard debris, food or wood,” according to the report.

Salem Reporter has more information:

Like some kind of trash phoenix, the debate over whether garbage incineration can produce renewable energy is officially rising from the ashes.

State Rep. Brian Clem confirmed to Salem Reporter this week a proposal is in the works to deem waste-to-energy facility in Brooks as a renewable energy source when lawmakers convene the short legislative session in February.

Supporters say burning trash is better for the environment than using landfills. Opponents, however, say the air pollution, among other things, does more harm than good.

Read the full article here.

How to nail an eco-friendly budget holiday

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Christmas – done. New Year – done. New Year fitness plan – erm, not done.

Dark January evenings are a prime time to start dreaming of where you and your mates might head this summer.

Party hubs like Malaga and Ibiza are still a big draw for group holidays, with Eastern European countries like Romania and Lithuania gaining popularity too.

But with the climate increasingly on everyone’s minds, can you still book a cheap getaway and help the planet?

Plan to avoid planes

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If you do book a train journey – you don’t have to travel like this

“A lot of people think going green means things will be expensive but it actually means being more efficient so you end up wasting less.”

That’s according to Claire O’Neill, the chair of the green working group for The Association For Electronic Music (AFEM), which aims to protect the environment where music events are happening.

And whether it’s a night in a bar, a week of club-crawls on the strip or a full-blown festival, our favourite getaways often involve music.

Claire says the key to a guilt-free trip away is “forward planning” and advises anyone who has already sorted their summer plans to get ahead of the pack.

And if you’re worried about the impact flying might have on the environment, Claire says using Europe’s “great train network” could be a fun way of making your trip more eco-friendly.

“You can extend what you were planning to experience along the way,” she says. “Some brave people even do long-distance cycling to get where they need to be as well.”

What if flying is the only way?

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Despite dedicating the last 15 years of her life to sustainability and environmental causes, Claire is “still a strong believer” that people should make the most of being able to travel and knows that flights aren’t always avoidable.

“We are going to unavoidably create emissions at some point,” says Claire.

“The cost of trains can be so much higher than flying… not many people can afford to pay five times the price for their transport.”

If air travel is the easiest and cheapest way to get to where you’re going – then there is the option of offsetting your flight.

A few airlines – such as RyanAir, Lufthansa and American Airlines – offer the option for passengers to pay a bit extra to help compensate for the carbon emissions produced by their flight.

The money is then invested in environmental projects – like planting trees or installing solar panels – which reduce carbon dioxide in the air.

Where’s that food from?

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We’ve all been told about the damage plastic can do to the planet.

Let’s be honest – we know we’re not going to be able to rid the world of plastic while we’re on holiday but there are things you can do to have a bit more of a positive impact on your travels.

Claire suggests taking reusable cutlery and packaging with you and looking into where the food you’re eating is coming from.

“If you’re getting teas, coffees or eating chocolate then you want to look for fair trade or direct trade logos.

“That helps make sure there aren’t human rights abuses in the supply chain.

“If you can’t see those logos you can always ask questions.”

Where are you staying?

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Even taking some time to research accommodation (if you’re not in a package deal) can change the impact your holiday has on the environment.

“There are various certifications that hotels can have to keep an eye out for, such as green key and greener tourism,” says Claire.

“But if you’re in a group, then it would be better to find some kind of a home to hire, before looking at individual hotel rooms.

“That often saves energy because they’re not needing to change all the bed sheets and towels and there isn’t the need to heat a huge building like a hotel.”

She also suggests that you can ask where you’re staying to tell you what they do to to help the environment.

“The more people that ask, the more they realise it’s important for their business and the more that they will make the changes more quickly,” she explains.

Use your voice

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Messaging organisers of events you’re going to could have more of an impact than you think

Another way of having a positive impact on the planet while you’re on holiday is by using social media to get in touch with places you’re staying.

“Everybody should feel empowered to make a change and have their voice heard.

“If there’s 100,000 people all having the same feeling about something – like not wanting single use plastics to be used at the event or place they go – if they all think ‘I’m not going to make any difference, then that’s 100,000 messages that don’t reach the right people and nothing will change.”

Where’s that cup going?

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And then there are places that offer a fun break for party-goers in eco-friendly surroundings.

“The first thing to think about is what you can do near home,” says Claire.

“You don’t necessarily need to go long distances and, additionally, masses of people going to the same place every year is probably not so helpful for the local environment.”

She reckons cities like Amsterdam – which have taken steps to be more environmentally friendly – could be a good option.

“They have a lot of support from their government to try to create circular economy.

“That’s where businesses think about all the materials that are used to make sure there’s a life for them afterwards.

“For instance, it could be taking a cup and then making sure that it becomes a cup again, rather than sending them to incinerators or landfill afterwards.”

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Getting to Green: Adding a Solar-Energy System to Your Self-Storage Property – Inside Self

Solar is no longer an “up and coming” technology used to generate electricity. It’s a mainstream energy source seen on the rooftops of homes and buildings across America. There are now more than 2 million solar-electric installations nationwide.

Commercial-building owners, ranging from big-box retailers to self-storage operators, have helped lead the transition to solar for many reasons: Consumers demand better sustainability practices, employees pride themselves on working for green companies, and businesses seek to reduce the carbon footprint from their operations. A new concept, “eco-marketing,” has even become a driving factor for some to go green.

But even with all the environmental advantages, financial reasons are often the primary drivers behind self-storage owners deciding to install solar. In an increasingly competitive landscape, they’re looking to maximize return, reduce operating costs, and increase the overall value of their business and property. Solar provides the opportunity to boost cash flow by reducing expensive utility costs. In fact, most self-storage businesses can decrease electricity expenses more than 75 percent by investing in a rooftop solar-energy system.

Electricity is one of the largest operating costs for any commercial building. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that lighting, ventilation and cooling—three vital energy components in every self-storage operation—comprise nearly 50 percent of a building’s electricity use. Meanwhile, the national average for commercial electricity rates continues to increase year after year, slowly driving up the cost of doing business.

A Good Match

Self-storage structures are ideal for solar, with unused rooftops that are often open to the sun. Facilities typically range from one to four stories, making their rooftop footprint much larger than that of taller buildings and providing much more surface for solar panels.

If covered parking is offered, there’s an opportunity to cover the carports with panels. If there’s unused land on the property, an array can be ground-mounted and will provide the same efficiency as if it were on a rooftop. The bottom line is your property is quite possibly a good fit for a solar-energy system.

Incentives and Programs

Depending on the size of the solar-energy system installed, self-storage owners can offset most, if not all, of their electricity costs. In some instances, if the local utility offers favorable policies to purchase power, you can even generate additional revenue by selling your excess clean energy back to the grid for neighbors to use. Through a program called net metering, the utility will purchase that power and redistribute it to surrounding homes and businesses.

It may seem counterintuitive, but some of the states with the best solar-incentive programs aren’t known for their quantities of sunlight. For example, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey are three of the most vibrant commercial solar-energy markets. Geography isn’t destiny, as evidenced by the fact that the financial returns for investing in solar in Illinois will almost certainly be better than investing in the same size system in Arizona. There’s a variety of reasons why this is true, with the most important being generous utility cash rebates and state-level incentives that dramatically reduce the cost of investment.

The cost of solar panels is at an all-time low, making the return on investment (ROI) more attractive than ever. In many areas of the country, self-storage owners can achieve a three- to five-year ROI on a solar system. Additionally, the Federal Investment Tax Credit allows for 26 percent to 30 percent of the total cost to be deducted from federal tax returns, allowing you to use tax benefits toward the payback of the system. You can also depreciate 100 percent of the system cost in year one. Depending on local-utility and state policy, a variety of additional incentives may be available for added cost savings.

Stabilizing energy costs over time for predictable forecasting and planning is another solar advantage, particularly for self-storage facilities that offer climate-controlled units. Having the ability to accurately and consistently plan for a building’s energy use and cost allows you to adjust your unit pricing to remain competitive.

Deciding to Move Forward and Steps to Take

If you’re interested in pursuing solar energy for your self-storage facility, first consider the following questions to determine if it makes sense:

  • Is the roof in good condition? It’s important to consider this before installing solar panels. If the roof is older than 15 to 20 years, I’d likely recommend replacing it before investing in a solar array; though, there are some exceptions. For example, some metal standing-seam roofs can last for more than 40 years.
  • Will you own the facility for five to 10-plus years? If you plan to sell within the next couple of years, don’t move forward with an installation. While the solar array will increase your property value, you won’t realize the ROI in that time. Also, the federal tax credit won’t fully vest until the end of year five, so you’d be required to pay back the portion of the tax credit that hasn’t vested.
  • Is the facility climate-controlled? If not, I recommend installing LED lighting and controls before investing in solar. Installing a solar array may still be a good investment, but energy efficiency should be prioritized first. 
  • Does the facility have high electric bills? If so, solar can help defray costs.

If you choose to move forward with a solar project, the first and most important step is to find a qualified solar-energy contractor. Evaluating the financing structures and construction process can be complicated and confusing. A highly qualified, experienced developer can successfully manage the progression, from initial consultation through financing and installation, in a simple, streamlined manner.

Get quotes from several contractors to ensure you’re getting a fair price. In fact, it’s best to request fully transparent pricing to ensure the contractor’s equipment, labor, overhead and profit are reasonable and appropriate for the job.

Adding solar to a self-storage facility might not be right for every owner or every building, but the economic and environmental benefits it provides warrant consideration. Maximizing every square foot of the property is vital to any owner’s bottom line, and the roof should be no exception.

Mat Elmore is managing director of Pivot Energy, a turnkey, commercial solar-energy company that’s developed more than 100 solar-energy projects at self-storage facilities nationwide. It provides free analysis to help facility owners determine if investing in solar energy is right for them. Mat leads the company’s business development for onsite solar-energy projects. For more information, call 888.734.3033; e-mail; visit

Covanta Marion tries again to get renewable energy designation for garbage burner


Operators of Oregon’s only municipal waste incinerator will again ask the state Legislature to designate trash burning as renewable energy, after an identical bill failed last year.

Officials from Covanta Marion, the Brooks facility that burns most of Marion County’s trash, have said that if the legislation fails again, they will have to double garbage rates or even shutter the plant.

The renewable energy designation would allow Covanta to sell the electricity it produces at a higher rate. That money would fund needed upgrades at the 33-year-old facility, company officials said.

Opponents argue that burning garbage is not a renewable resource, and that incentives meant to create new sources of renewable energy should not go to a plant that’s been operating for three decades.

Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said he agreed to introduce the bill during the short session, which begins Feb. 3, at the request of Marion County commissioners.  

“I declined to do that as my personal bill, but I did offer a slot as a committee bill,” Clem said.  

Clem chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use, which discussed the legislative concept Wednesday.

The new proposal is the same as an amended bill that passed the Senate last year, but did not get a hearing in the House.

It would allow the incinerator to be certified under Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires 50% of the electricity Oregonians use to come from renewable sources by 2040.

Only electricity generated from the burning of biogenic material, such as wood or paper, would qualify. That material makes up about half of the waste burned there.

Combustion of anthropogenic materials, such as plastic, wouldn’t qualify.

Covanta spokesman James Regan could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Regan has previously declined to say how much revenue the designation would bring in.

Covanta Marion is a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Covanta Energy Corp. It burns about 550 tons of municipal solid waste per day, generating up to 13.1 megawatts of energy.

The incinerator was Oregon’s 20th largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2017, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Read more Salem news:

  • Health, environment groups protest Covanta incinerator pollution permit
  • Marion County at peak garbage capacity; could buy incinerator or build new transfer station
  • Cold storage company buys Salem, Stayton and Brooks plants
  • Board members now mandatory reporters of abuse, neglect

Marion County’s contract with Covanta expires in September 2020. If the burner closes, the county will send waste to the Coffin Butte landfill north of Corvallis.

It’s our winter flash sale:New subscribers get three month’s digital access to for $1, then $7.99 a month.

Contact the reporter at, 503-399-6779 or follow at

How the Transition to Green Construction Drives Business Growth

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Sustainable construction has experienced an exponential increase in the last few years, and it soars higher as time passes. Building green homes, shopping centers, government offices, and more isn’t a temporary trend. This phenomenon is an effort to protect the environment in the face of rapidly changing climates.

Companies that use green construction see notable increases in business growth. The three aspects of sustainability — economics, environment, and society — merge to foster successful business development. When organizations adopt sustainability on a company-wide level, they can align themselves with prosperity.

Business Benefits of Green Construction

Green construction brings added revenue, opportunities for new projects, and heightened credibility within the industry. Construction companies that want to construct green buildings can apply for certification, which helps them build authority as sustainable professionals. 

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the National Green Building Standard, and the Green Globes are a few of the many available certifications for sustainable building. Following detailed guidelines enables contractors to create green buildings that uphold eco-friendly claims. 

With more certified contractors on the market, landowners can commission more green projects, and construction companies will see a profit increase in return. A survey from the US Green Building Council revealed that respondents expect 60% of their building projects through 2021 to be green-based.

Construction companies aren’t the only ones who benefit from building sustainably. Building owners and homeowners enjoy better energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. Green construction companies can immediately pass value to their clients.

This is because even though it may take a bigger budget to start a green project, the initial cost leads to a good ROI for the overall upkeep. Sourcing materials locally and applying modular building techniques reduces the construction time for an assignment, which helps owners start earning money faster.

How to Transition to Sustainability

Construction managers can position their companies as allies to sustainable initiatives by practicing energy-efficient techniques and creating resource-conscious facilities. Retrofitting old buildings and signing contracts with eco-friendly suppliers are lucrative ways to start small. 

A business claiming to create sustainable products must be green of its own accord. Construction companies will have to re-evaluate and revise internal operations, including investing in green technology and practicing improved waste management strategies.

Most eco-related issues have a range of potential solutions, meaning managers will benefit from researching each one before making a choice. Regular data collection on revenue and project success will help businesses decide if a specific green approach is right for them. 

Companies that expand their efforts outward should seek green certification to make themselves desirable to potential clients. If someone wants a sustainable building, they’ll seek out expert builders in that field.

Opportunities for Green Construction Growth

Construction managers should scout for opportunities to take on green projects whenever possible. The federal government offers residential tax credits for many eco-friendly building initiatives, meaning contractors can cover costs by applying for applicable grants. Taking advantage of these incentives makes green building easier for everyone involved.

Renewable energy is growing in popularity among property owners, and it’ll continue increasing due to societal emphasis on reducing emissions. Building wind turbines and solar panels will become high-demand construction jobs — companies should jump on the opportunities early. 

People want healthier interiors in both new and existing structures. Individuals want to know more about indoor air quality and green building materials, and they want their buildings to meet health standards.

Retrofits and renovations are great starting points for any builders wanting to join the movement. It’s often cheaper to install green modifications in an existing structure than build a new one. 

Doing this also helps reduce pollution and energy consumption — commercial and residential buildings make up 40% of US energy usage. Constructing new sustainable buildings is important, but it’s also essential to modify the ones already standing.

Welcoming a New Decade of Green Building

Companies and contractors are gearing up for innovations in construction — especially on the sustainable front. Transitioning to sustainability will require a comprehensive look at how the industry currently functions. 

Supply chain management, waste disposal, and low-energy equipment are becoming more crucial than ever in making the green switch. The industry will see significant gains if more businesses can embrace eco-friendly techniques, which allows for a cleaner future and increased profits.

Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.


Lawmakers to give Marion County trash burner another chance to be ‘renewable’

Covanta Marion, a trash incinerator in Brooks, burns roughly 170,000 tons of garbage every year. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

Like some kind of trash phoenix, the debate over whether garbage incineration can produce renewable energy is officially rising from the ashes.

State Rep. Brian Clem confirmed to Salem Reporter this week a proposal is in the works to deem waste-to-energy facility in Brooks as a renewable energy source when lawmakers convene the short legislative session in February.

Supporters say burning trash is better for the environment than using landfills. Opponents, however, say the air pollution, among other things, does more harm than good.

What legislators decide will shape negotiations later this year between Marion County and the company that operates Covanta Marion.

If the legislation passes, the plant would be allowed to sell some of its electricity at a premium. New Jersey-based parent company Covanta said that cash will help cover rising maintenance costs at the 32-year-old plant.

Without it, officials have said they may charge Marion County — and its residents —higher disposal fees. Or they may close the facility altogether.

Sound familiar? Lawmakers discussed the same proposal last year. That proposal passed the Senate, but never made it out of the House.

Clem said he was convinced by Marion County leaders to be the one to reignite talks because he doesn’t want his constituents’ garbage rates going up.

“I am going to try and convene people because it’s a problem for my constituents and if their rates go up — I’d like that to not happen,” the Salem Democrat said.

Clem said the new bill will likely come from the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use which he chairs.

The proposal, identical to last year’s, declares that the only material that could be considered for treatment as premium “renewable” electricity would be organic material like yard debris, food, or wood.

Electricity generated from anthropogenic material — manmade goods such as plastic bags and plastic straws — wouldn’t qualify.

How much money the change would put in Covanta Marion’s pocketbook is unclear.

County officials aren’t sure how much revenue the plant could make under that deal. Covanta Marion burned 550 tons of garbage per day in 2018 and generated 13.1 megawatts of electricity. A little more than half of the plant’s emissions come from biogenic material, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

But county officials said Thursday they don’t know how much revenue that could bring in. Covanta Marion’s contract with Portland General Electric is not public.

“We’re not sure what the breakdown looks like,” said Brian May, director of the county Environmental Services Department.

Meanwhile, James Regan, a spokesman for the New Jersey company, declined to detail how the facility’s fortunes could change under the legislation.

“I can’t speculate on that. All I can say is the benefits the plants provide are numerous,” Regan said.

Last May, Regan told Salem Reporter that not having the renewable designation would “hurt” the facility’s viability. His predictions were less defined Thursday.

A Covanta Marion worker operates the claw that hoists trash into the incinerator. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

“The future evaluation will have to be considered,” he said. “I don’t want to speculate on what happens in the long term. As we’ve talked about many times, that’s all kind of in flux.”

Marion County officials support the proposal to maintain the current level of operations in Brooks. If Covanta Marion isn’t able to sell green electricity, the facility may try to charge the county higher prices or shut down altogether.

“It will be different. It won’t be as good as what we have today, and prices may go up,” said Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron. “They have got to find the revenues to reinvest over longer periods of time.”

Cameron, a former state lawmaker, is optimistic he can rally others at the Capitol to the cause.

“We’ve made our local legislators much more aware how important this is without all those distractions around them,” he said.

Marion County and Covanta will be negotiating a new contract after the session. Their contract expires Sept. 20.

According to May, there is no long-term plan yet in place if Covanta Marion shutters. He said the county would truck garbage to Coffin Butte, a landfill in Corvallis, until the county finds a permanent fix, a process that could take months.

“Even if we knew things were done early, it’s going to take some time to develop a long-term plan,” May said.

Still, there are groups who would rather see a Marion County landfill — at least temporarily — instead of treating garbage burning in the same renewable class as wind energy or solar. Covanta Marion was Oregon’s 19th top emitter of greenhouse gas in 2018, according to the state DEQ.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment for climate change,” said Damon Motz-Storey of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. He said it’s important for Oregon Democrats to “think very carefully before they cast a vote that will move them in the direction of rewarding a facility that puts so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.”

The landfill-versus-incinerate debate will stage many of the battles. Both produce greenhouse gases, but sides differ on which one makes more sense. Two landfills also rate among the top 20 emitters of greenhouse gases, according to the state DEQ.

Regan and Cameron both said landfills would create more methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Regan said sending trash to a landfill “is just irresponsible in my view.” That’s also where Clem said many of his constituents draw the line.

“I have a lot of constituents who don’t like landfills,” he said. “They really hate landfills.”

Motz-Storey said landfills make more sense in the short term, but said neither technology will make sense for the planet’s future.

“This is hard work but we need to be doing it,” he said. “It’s not just a question of incinerators or landfills, but also about recycling and composting and waste reduction. We need to be thinking more broadly about more responsible waste disposal methods.”

Cameron said changes in manufacturing are needed as well.

“The carbon footprint … of producing a plastic bottle is much bigger than the carbon footprint of us getting rid of it,” he said. “We need to do everything we can.”

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, or @TroyWB.

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JetBlue Airways Will Become Carbon Neutral By July 2020, Making It The First In US History

This year, JetBlue Airways Corporation may become the first large U.S. airline to go carbon neutral.

As the quickest way around the world, the airline industry engages with over 4 billion individuals each year. However, it is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Shockingly, a singular commercial flight produces more carbon dioxide than the amount that some citizens produce in an entire year. Taking note of the situation, environmental activists are putting the travel industry under fire and calling out its contribution to climate change.

However, amidst all of the criticism, JetBlue is choosing to step up to the challenge.
In order to do so, the company is set to invest in eco-friendly projects across the globe.

JetBlue Goes Green With Fuel Choices

In a press release publicized on Monday, JetBlue vowed to mitigate emissions and go carbon neutral by July 2020. With expanding efforts, JetBlue can offset 15 to 17 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to removing 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road each year. 

As the leading project in its initiative, the company will be beginning to use sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco. Fortunately, the fuel is already fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology.

JetBlue commits to using sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco.
JetBlue commits to using sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco.

Sustainable fuels, or biomass fuels, are any fuels derived from a once-living matter. For example, wood, corn, and other waste from agricultural crops are used in its production. This provides a sustainable solution to fossil fuels being popularly used today. 

As of 2018, airplanes produce 11% of all CO2 emissions in the world and significantly contribute to climate change. However, by utilizing this alternative, JetBlue says that they can reduce each flight’s fuel carbon footprint by 80%.

JetBlue Makes Becoming Carbon Neutral A Group Effort

On top of its sustainable fuel swap-out, JetBlue stated that they will continue to partner with As a U.S. nonprofit organization, focuses on reducing carbon emissions and creating climate solutions.

The airline company and the nonprofit have been working together since 2008. In the last 10 years, the two have already mitigated more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.

On top of this, JetBlue now has new carbon offsetting partners. Adding to the list, EcoAct and South Pole are working with the company to promote carbon-neutral travels. 

Airline Goes Green On Land Too

As part of its carbon offsetting program, the airline company is engaging with projects around the world to mitigate the overall need for jet fuel. Focusing on areas that will opt for eco-friendly, renewable resources, JetBlue is striving to lower emissions in the atmosphere when possible. 

Currently, JetBlue announced support of carbon offset projects such as:

  • Forest conservation by declining plans that will convert forests for other purposes.
  • Promoting landfill gas capture (LFG) and converting it into renewable energy resources. 
  • Developing solar and wind farms to replace the need for fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and furnace oil.

JetBlue did not disclose the cost of any of its sustainable programs.

Collaboration Pivotal in Becoming Carbon Neutral Industry-Wide

According to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, the solution to this problem is a community effort. 

JetBlue CEO wants other airlines to join in the fight to become carbon neutral.
JetBlue CEO wants other airlines to join in the fight to become carbon neutral.
Credit: Lori Hoffman/Bloomberg

“The airline industry is one of the few industries that has collectively committed to an international emissions reduction goal,” said Hayes. “Air travel brings so much good to the world and JetBlue has always been about making our essential industry better. Carbon offsetting is a bridge to, not a silver bullet for, a lower carbon future. Reducing and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect of our business plan and our mission to inspire humanity.”

Hopefully, JetBlue achieves its mission and inspires others to do the same. If several other companies follow JetBlue’s environmental initiatives, the future of airline travels may be promising.

avery maloto

Avery is a Staff Writer at The Rising and a Material Science and Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Smithfield Foods Generates Renewable Natural Gas from Wastewater to Power North Carolina Communities

  • New partnership with Duke Energy and OptimaBio to Benefit Thousands of Homes and Businesses 

This was a joint news release between Duke Energy and Smithfield Foods.

SMITHFIELD, Va., January 8, 2020 — Smithfield Foods, Inc., in partnership with Duke Energy and OptimaBio, LLC, is now producing renewable natural gas (RNG) from the wastewater treatment system at its Tar Heel, N.C. pork processing facility, which will help power more than 2,000 local homes and businesses. The three companies are utilizing the world’s largest pork processing facility to provide renewable energy to consumers while reducing their own, and the state of North Carolina’s, carbon footprint.

The $14 million project is the latest from Smithfield Renewables, Smithfield’s platform to unify and accelerate its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025. Through partnership with Duke Energy, roughly 140,000 dekatherms of RNG per year will be transported to natural gas plants and used to generate electricity for consumers.

“This project brings to life all three of our company’s guiding principles – Responsibility, Operational Excellence, and Innovation,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. “For the first time, we are creating renewable energy from the biogas generated in our wastewater treatment system and using it to power local communities. With the help of our partners, we are producing additional value for our company and our neighbors—a concept that is ingrained in our culture.”

To date, this is one of Smithfield’s largest renewable energy projects involving wastewater, and its first in North Carolina. Smithfield also has “wastewater-to-energy” projects at its Milan, Mo.; Grayson, Ky.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. facilities, which are used to power their modified steam boilers.

The company’s Tar Heel, N.C., project utilizes a gas upgrading and injection system operated by OptimaBio, LLC, a bioenergy project developer, which leverages the facility’s three million gallon-per-day wastewater treatment system to collect and clean biogas through an existing on-site digester and convert it into RNG.

“We are proud to partner with Smithfield on this project, which has far-reaching and positive impacts for the environment, the local community, and industries that are key to the state’s economy,” said Mark Maloney, CEO and Founder at OptimaBio, LLC. “We’re helping diversify and strengthen North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio through this endeavor.”

Once converted, the RNG is injected into the Piedmont Natural Gas system, and then transported to Duke Energy to produce electricity. This project will help Duke Energy satisfy state swine waste-to-energy mandates under the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard law in North Carolina. Under this law, Duke Energy must generate 0.20% of its retail sales from swine waste by 2024.

“At Duke Energy, we are seeking innovative and cleaner energy solutions. Buying the output from Smithfield’s renewable natural gas project will allow us to expand our diverse generation mix in North Carolina,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “This project is creating safe and affordable energy that customers can rely on.”

In addition to creating renewable energy at its facilities, Smithfield is implementing projects on its farms that transform manure into RNG. These projects capture methane from manure, and clean and convert it into RNG, which is then injected into local natural gas distribution systems for homes and businesses. In the next decade, Smithfield is implementing “manure-to-energy” projects in at least six states including Arizona, California, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Whether using biogas to power its facilities or nearby communities, these programs are part of Smithfield’s robust sustainability program. To learn more, visit 

About Smithfield Foods

Headquartered in Smithfield, Va., since 1936, Smithfield Foods, Inc. is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Our 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly.®” and have made us one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. We have pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as our ambitious commitment to cut our carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. We believe in the power of protein to end food insecurity and have donated hundreds of millions of food servings to our neighbors in need. Smithfield boasts a portfolio of high-quality iconic brands, such as Smithfield®, Eckrich®, and Nathan’s Famous®, among many others. For more information, visit, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Smithfield Renewables

Smithfield Renewables is a strategic platform within Smithfield Foods, a $15 billion global food company, and the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor. Smithfield launched this platform in 2017 to lead, unify, and accelerate the company’s renewable energy efforts to help meet its industry-leading goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025—the first commitment of its kind by a protein company. To achieve this goal, Smithfield has implemented a wide range of projects across its farms and facilities, including converting hog manure into renewable natural gas and commercial-grade fertilizer, streamlining its transportation network, launching an ambitious solid waste reduction plan, sourcing sustainably grown feed grain, and implementing operational efficiency projects. For more information, visit

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects. 

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook


Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., OptimaBio is a swine waste-to-energy project developer, owner and operator and the leader in RNG development for North Carolina. It’s a partnership bringing together experts in bioenergy, agriculture, project finance, and environmental stewardship to invest in rural communities for the greater good.

Lisa Martin
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
(757) 365-1980

Randy Wheeless
Duke Energy
(704) 382-8379  

Mark Maloney
(910) 632-0752