The Milam Landfill located  in East St. Louis has recently completed its transformation into an environmentally friendly operation. With construction costs totaling over $19 million dollars, it is finally time to begin converting trash to fuel and start making a return of the investment. However Waste Management is not the only one who invested in the green project.

The State of Illinois contributed $2.4 million dollars and that is where the fuel will be sold to heat homes. With only 20 years left in Illinois landfills, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency must begin thinking about their waste removal future.

“We need to think about how we can use the waste we’re generating, and how we can conserve space and use what’s being generated in our landfills.” says Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnet

st. louis landfill

The Milam Landfill is obviously not the first “trash to cash” service in the United States, but it is the very first in Missouri. The project has received a great deal of notoriety for their environmental efforts and has set the international standard for trash to fuel operations. So how is the Milan Landfill converting trash to fuel better than everybody else?

Well, let’s start from the very beginning. You rent a dumpster in the the greater St. Louis area from Budget Dumpster because it was the most affordable. After all your unwanted materials are put inside the container, Budget Dumpster takes your dumpster to Milam Landfill, where it is weighed and added to the other debris.

The landfill is then capped and the trash begins to heat up and decompose producing methane and carbon dioxide, along with other gases. The mixture of mostly carbon dioxide and methane is fed into a network of very long tubes. Each tube is filled with 360 miles of fibers that are woven together and no larger than the human hair.

trash to fuel technology in st. louis

The gas travels through the tubes, where everything besides methane is hopefully filtered out. Eventually the gas is transported to your home to provide you with heat. Just remember this is all possible by renting a dumpster!

Converting trash into a fuel source is not as popular as you may think. In many cases the non methane gas that is filtered out must be burned off creating air pollution. Also there is also the risk that the methane is not completely filtered, housing a variety of impurities.

Even with the potential downsides, the operation will continue to move forward. This industry is highly regulated and is subjected to constant testing to avoid any potential problems. The Milam Landfill green initiatives will soon be providing them a wealth of green.

Waste Removal Fun Fact

Standing atop the Milan Landfill, looking across the 55-70 interstate, you will be able to see Monks Mound. Monks Mound is the oldest earthwork and pyramid in the United States and Mesoamerica. It was constructed by the Mississippian in 900 CE and has accommodated a variety of settlers since then. With mounds on each side of the interstate, it doesn’t make the landfill look like too much of an eye sore.

Monks Mound

Depiction of Mons Mound.