Pike Research’s Mackinnon Lawrence estimates the theoretical potential for biofuels production from global waste to be around 35bn gal/year today. This would more than double current production of biofuels worldwide while extracting untapped value from nearly 1.5 billion tons of waste.
Garbage (or, as the industry refers to it, municipal solid waste, or MSW), is a rising star in the fast-emerging advanced biofuels landscape. Projects in development today aim to produce the spectrum of alternative fuels, but among them renewable jet fuel remains the biggest prize.
Despite this potential, just 12 named projects are in the pipeline today, worth an estimated 200 million gallons of new production capacity. While high upfront capital costs and structural market barriers are partly to blame, the staggering complexity inherent in MSW-to-biofuel project development described by presenters at the Orlando conference was a revelation.