The production of waste, especially with many countries emerging into powerful economies, has become a problem of such dimensions that something definite has to be done.Many new technologies are being developed to process, recycle and reuse waste, some combining waste treatment processes in the same plant to produce a variety of useful products such as electrical energy, diesel, heat, carbon black and other recyclable materials. Latest estimates show that there are 431 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants in Europe and 89 in the United States (2004). The U.S. recycles 14 percent of its trash in WTE plants.
Anaerobic Digestion is one of the more promising biological technologies for sustainable waste management and has the potential to turn a large and worsening agro-headache into a growing opportunity for sustainable farming. It can extract useful biogas energy and high quality fertilizer from manure and other problematic agro waste products while also reducing the air and water pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases from a farming operation. Anaerobic Digestion harnesses natural living biological processes to maintain the natural carbon cycle and extract useful energy and fertilizer byproducts from what had been problematic waste streams. It is well suited for many types of farming operations and is an important sustainable farming practice.
UPDATE: Department of Agriculture announced a public/private partnership to help spread the use of anaerobic digester technology in dairy operations with the goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.