Waste-to-energy facing comeback

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Despite some setbacks in the last five years, waste-to-energy (WtE) is predicted to make a comeback and are an increasing source of America's renewable power.

The WtE industry struggled in the latter part of the last century due to economic uncertainty and regulatory conditions that made substitute landfills and recycling facilities more attractive waste disposal options, causing some firms to struggle with profitability and close facilities.

But over the next five years, the industry will experience a comeback sparked by renewed public and government interest in the environmental impact of waste disposal and renewable energy generation marking the first return to growth for the industry in more than a decade, according to research from IBISWorld.

The research contends that economic recovery, population growth, increased urbanization, and energy demand will increase industry revenue from waste disposal and renewable energy production. New construction of smaller facilities with a wider range of WtE technologies will increase. Industry firms will also diversify industry operations into recycling, particularly metals, to diversify revenue streams and improve profitability.

"Higher fuel prices also increased transportation costs to landfills and made WtE facilities more economically attractive compared to landfills in certain geographic areas, such as the northeast and south," said IBISWorld industry analyst Nima Samadi.

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