Resource Recovery is a term used to describe the effort to view our garbage as a resource and to put it to whatever positive use we can, rather than just bury it in the ground. In Blue Earth County, there is a cooperative partnership with several private businesses to extract energy from our garbage by processing it into fuel, and burning it to produce electricity.
Steps of Resource Recovery:
Consolidation: Garbage trucks pick up garbage at the curb and deliver it to the MWPC transfer station, where it is dumped on the floor. From there it is loaded into a larger truck so it can be more efficiently hauled to the processing facility.
Processing: At the processing facility, the garbage is shredded, dried, and fluffed. Iron and steel is removed for recycling with a large magnet. The resulting fuel (called Refuse Derived Fuel, or RDF) is loaded onto semi-trailers for transport to the power plant.
Incineration/Electrical Production: RDF is sent to the burn chamber of Xcel Energy’s Wilmarth Power Plant. In the chamber, the fuel burns at a high temperature, destroying or removing nearly all pollutants. The 26 Mega Watt power plant produces enough electricity from garbage to power about 20,000 homes.