In September, Renewable Energy from Waste (REW) magazine announced that it would be expanding its coverage into a comprehensive waste and environmental services publication, Waste Today, in 2017. While the move to broader coverage of this market will fill a gap in coverage of the marketplace for public and private waste services companies, it is a bittersweet transition.
When we launched REW in 2012, we saw great potential for waste conversion technologies. Large firms like Waste Management were heavily investing in new technologies and fossil fuel prices were through the roof. The president was crafting policies to support the generation of clean power and reduced greenhouse gases. It was an active time for the burgeoning industry. Young companies were testing the waters and everyone was excited.
The next four years saw a series of project delays and business failures coupled with record low prices for natural gas and electricity. Investment in waste conversion projects began to slow. Enthusiasm turned into skepticism by some.
The industry isn’t disappearing by any means, but to many, the prospect is much less appealing than when a barrel of oil was over $100. Making the economics work while also gaining support for an industry that hasn’t always lived up to its promises has created a challenging environment, to say the least.
“Making the economics work while also gaining support for an industry that hasn’t always lived up to its promises has created a challenging environment, to say the least.”
Despite those conditions, several successful project also have been developed during the course of our coverage that we will continue to watch. Innovators are still moving forward with projects and see the value conversion technologies can provide as on-site power generation or vehicle fuel. I am certain conditions for waste conversion projects will improve and spark further development.
Waste managers who are considering waste conversion are not just looking for a magic box to make gold out of garbage. These are the leaders of a very complex industry that is as much a societal issue as it is an environmental one. City officials and business owners wanting to understand the best methods to handle waste are the very individuals who have considered or are considering conversion technologies. They are the ones that see value beyond the landfill. They aren’t satisfied until every last piece of trash is reused, reduced, recycled and made into energy.
It’s those companies and thought leaders we will profile in Waste Today. You will read how companies in the waste business for generations are still employing new and innovative ways to manage the ever-changing waste stream efficiently. They are the ones that look at a pile of trash as a treasure not to be buried.
Our coverage of waste conversion is not going away, rather it is going to be further supported by looking at the entire system of waste from generation, to collection and transfer, to processing, recovery and disposal. It is an exciting new chapter that I hope you will join me for.