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A Trash Solution We Can’t Refuse

Every day Orange County residents produce about 10,000 tons of refuse, which works out to about 8.5 pounds per person. The problem county officials face is getting rid of it.

Orange County’s approach to trash disposal has been the so-called “cut and cover,” in which trash is hauled to disposal sites and buried. Landfills are filling rapidly and the county must start a serious search for alternate trash disposal methods.

That’s why the Board of Supervisors Tuesday ordered a study of whether it is necessary or practical to develop waste-to-energy plants that burn trash and, as a by-product, produce energy that can be converted to electric power.

Air pollution concerns years ago eliminated burning, but new technology has again made incineration a practical possibility. Some waste-to-energy plants have been built in Europe and Japan, and the City of Commerce is presently constructing the first one in Southern California. Orange County officials are wise to begin exploring the approach now to see if it can meet the county’s growing trash disposal and energy needs and still pass economic and environmental muster.

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