One of the highest ideals of sustainable waste management is that products, components and materials are always kept at their highest utility and continually circulate in a restorative system. Thus, there is very little “waste” since materials are always used as inputs for another process. While many focus on materials as the core of the circular economy, there is a critical need for the energy to help power the reintroduction of end-of-life materials into new products as well as the safe and effective management of residuals that may not be suitable for circularity.

“Our employees believe in our partnership with Covanta. They enjoy coming to work and, most of all, they speak confidently about the company when they are outside of our buildings, which drives positivity in the community. We set out from day one to have a green presence and we continue to look for ways to improve and be more creative.”

Murray Hewitt, Greenpac General Manager

One of the ways Covanta leverages its EfW offerings to support circularity is through co-location agreements. Covanta takes in the nonrecyclable waste from a neighboring industry partner and, in return, supplies the energy recovered from the company’s waste to power its own business once again. To maximize engineering and cost efficiencies, the most successful partnerships are with companies that are within approximately two miles of an EfW facility.

A prime example of this circular model is the collaboration between Covanta’s EfW facility in Niagara Falls, New York and Greenpac Mill, a local paper manufacturer. Steam generated by Covanta during the combustion of Greenpac’s nonrecyclable waste is returned and used to dry the paper Greenpac produces.  Roughly 200 miles to the east, an EfW facility owned by the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) and operated by Covanta has a similar symbiotic relationship with a local 100% recycled paper mill, converting the mill’s recycling byproducts into electricity and capturing thousands of tons of metal for recycling. In turn, the mill provides a local outlet for recycled paper collected by OCRRA.