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Trash can be turned into car energy

Sunday - 4/28/2013, 9:42am  ET

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Trash is a valuable resource that can be converted into energy for electric cars. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If one man's trash is another man's treasure, what about taking that trash and using it to power a car?

"The average family in Alexandria puts out 46 pounds of garbage every week," says Michael Clem, a recycling program analyst with the City of Alexandria. "That's enough for me to power this car (for) 38 miles."

Clem was referring to an electric car, a Nissan Leaf that is powered by electricity made from garbage. The car has the City of Alexandria seal on it as well as a statement that reads, "The car is powered by trash."

"Trash is a valuable resource," says Michael Renga, business manager with Covanta Energy. "It can be converted into energy. It shouldn't be wasted in a landfill."

He says the company's local Energy from Waste facility has a partnership with Alexandria and Arlington. All the trash that residents put along the curb outside and all trash that can't be recycled, his company will take.

"Instead of going to a landfill, we take the waste and convert it into energy," he says. "We have 45 of these facilities throughout the U.S. and we've been doing it in Arlington and Alexandria for 25 years."

Covanta renewed a waste disposal and service agreement with Alexandria and Arlington for 2013 through 2019 with an option to run through 2038.

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