Special To The Tampa Tribune, By Ken Hagan
Hillsborough County and Covanta Energy have been partners at the Waste to Energy plant since 1987. Over these 25 years, Hillsborough citizens have enjoyed world class reliability and emission levels more than 50 percent below the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements. Daily, the plant processes 1800 tons of solid waste -- enough energy to continuously power over 20,000 homes and businesses annually. Recently, the facility achieved an important milestone of 10.5 million tons of waste processed. At first blush, that may not seem a big deal to the average person but when we translate what that means, it tells the story in a very meaningful way.
Ten million tons is actually the equivalent of taking 1.9 million cars off of the road for one year; or, planting 240 million trees. It means we’ve offset emissions from 400 million propane grills or 8 million tons of green house gases. And it also translates to 160,000 tons of recycled metals that would otherwise not have been recycled and 10,000 acre feet of open space saved from being landfilled. That in and of itself is a tremendous contribution to our community, but let me share one more accomplishment borne of the County’s commitment to waste to energy.
Covanta, through its Clean World Initiative, is working to bring sustainability to every facet of the Waste to Energy business. Recently, they worked closely with us to enable disconnection of the adjacent water and wastewater treatment plants from the electric grid, and enabled the County to power those facilities with the clean, renewable energy generated by the waste to energy facility. Today, Hillsborough taxpayers reap multiple advantages, including saving $600,000 annually because we no longer purchase commercially priced electricity. These efforts were applauded in late 2012 with Sustainable Florida’s Partnership Best Practices award.
I encourage all readers and citizen’s to join Hillsborough County and Covanta Energy in our commitment to sustainability by reducing, reusing and recycling. Learn more about the County’s sustainability practices and goals, or about Covanta’s Clean World Initiative.
Ken Hagan is the chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission.