Date: April 26, 2010
Source: Biofuels Digest
Waste Management's Carl Rush, head of its Organic Growth Group and recently promoted to its leadership team, spoke to Biofuels Digest about the company's efforts to better exploit the waste stream as an increasingly valuable resource.
With its 16 waste-to-energy plants, recycling facilities, and 115 landfill gas-to-energy projects, the company already has a long history in renewable energy and diversion technologies. Lately however, Rush and his group have pushed into more esoteric areas. Last May the company entered a joint venture with InEnTec to create S4 Energy Solutions, to commercialize plasma arc gasification of wastes into syngas. In August, they partnered with Terrabon and Valero to commercialize a technology to create low-carbon liquid transportation fuel from organic waste. In November, Waste Management and Linde North America announced that their joint venture company had begun producing liquefied natural gas at the Altamont Landfill near Livermore, California. In January, WM announced an investment in Harvest Power, to develop an organic waste anaerobic digestion facility. In February, they announced an investment in Enerkem, to develop another waste gasification technology.
Rush says the Organic Growth Group is organized into four areas: renewable energy, materials technology, which explores ways to convert components of the waste stream into higher value products, recycling technologies to increase diversion, and brand management as a means to drive business. He points out that the 30-50 million tons of organics waste out of 160 million tons collected represents an important sub-market and key opportunity.
Rush says that in general, his group has sought out opportunities that will fit into the company's existing logistical infrastructure and management process in ways that will leverage the technology. The company is also seeking to learn from its partners who might share in the risk or have more experience with a particular feedstock, or process, such as syngas, etc. A strong capital partner, such as Kleiner Perkins, can bring expertise in combining technologies across its businesses and getting to market sooner with the new processes.
Says Rush, "One way to look at it is waste - another way is as a stream of valuable material that we can learn how to use."
To see the complete interview, visit: biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2010/04/26/waste-management-portrait-of-a-renewable-energy-strategic-investor/.