Winder landfill honored for turning trash into treasure

WINDER -- A Winder landfill has been honored by the federal Landfill Methane Outreach Program for its proficiency in turning trash into clean energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month announced the Oak Grove landfill's gas-to-energy initiative as the Project of the Year for 2009. It topped runner-up projects in Missouri and California.

At the Winder facility, home to more than 11 million tons of waste, landfill gases are collected, cleaned and injected into two local natural gas lines for distribution to residential and commercial consumers.

The project produces enough gas to heat more than 8,000 homes and prevents the release of 42,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the city.

The city of Winder expects to earn about $250,000 per year from its gas utility.

Winder Mayor Chip Thompson credits the project with improving the city's environment and general quality of life.

"This innovative process of turning trash into renewable, clean energy for our citizens ... is a fine example of how we can leverage public-private resources to deliver cost-effective services," Thompson said in a release.

At full capacity, the plant will supply enough fuel to heat 10,500 homes, resulting in 44,500 fewer tons of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere each year, according to Republic Services, the company helming the landfill project.

EPA honored a total of eight projects across the United States.