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Italian Company Could Change the Way W.Va. Looks at Waste

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Liz McCormick
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Landfilling has been the main source of getting rid of waste for centuries. But a new technology coming to West Virginia may change how we think of waste disposal, and in the long run, help our environment.

Entsorga is an Italian resource recovery company that has been around since 1997. About four years ago, the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority was looking for ways to promote a cleaner environment and find a safer and more efficient way to dispose of waste. ...Entsorga ended up finding them.

After three years of waiting, Entsorga received approval from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to begin constructing a new resource recovery facility later this year on property owned by the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority. The facility will take anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of the refuse they collect and turn it into fuel instead of putting it in the ground.

“Essentially what you take waste, and you use it as a resource or you use to make energy," said Clint Hogbin, the chairman of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, "This is garbage that will be picked up on the street, no differently then it’s being picked up today. And instead of the truck going to a landfill, the truck will go to a 4 acre building, and unload its waste inside of a building, where mechanical equipment, electro-mechanical equipment will sort and process that waste and prepare it to be used for fuel.”

The Berkeley County facility will be the first Entsorga plant in the country and the first resource recovery facility in West Virginia using a technology called HeBIOT.

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Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Acreage just behind the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority's main office. The Entsorga facility will be built just beyond this fence.

HeBIOT is an acronym. It stands for high-efficiency biological treatment, and it’s a patented technology, patent by Entsorga," Hogbin said, "It uses the biology of waste if you will, the decomposition of waste, to prepare the waste to be used for a fuel.”

Hogbin says while there are other resource recovery facilities in the United States, this facility is the only one that will use the HeBIOT technology. The waste is turned into a confetti-like material by use of high-tech machines operated by humans within a clean room. The material is then dried and can be burned for fuel and used as a replacement for some non-renewable resources like coal. And that’s what Hogbin says may keep the state from embracing the new fueling system.

“We were worried about there being some concern, particularly from downstate, about the impact on coal, because this would be competing with coal,” Hogbin noted.

With the push from the federal government to reduce carbon emission, however, Hogbin says recycling refuse is a viable option for not just West Virginia, but the entire country.

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Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Clint Hogbin, chairman of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, stands in the field soon to be under construction.

“Emissions from burning of this material has been studied. It’s been studied by Entsorga. It’s also been studied by the United States Environmental Protection Agency who literally sent this board a letter, advising us their opinion of burning this material was significantly lower or equal to the emissions of burning coal.”

Entsorga has an agreement with another Italian company called Essroc, also located in Berkeley County. The confetti-like material produced at the Entsorga plant, will be sent to Essroc, where this fuel will be used to power the plant that makes cement.

Apple Valley Waste Services will also play a role by providing Entsorga with the garbage it will use to make the fuel.

Hogbin says once the Entsorga facility is up-and-running, it would employ around 12 people, with salaries ranging from forty to sixty-thousand dollars a year.


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