Hillsborough County converts curbside garbage to electricity

Ever wondered what happens to your garbage after it leaves the curb? In Hillsborough County, collected trash is delivered to the County's Resource Recovery Facility on Falkenburg Road. This waste-to-energy facility burns residential and commercial trash, and the heat is used to generate electricity - enough renewable energy to power 35,000 homes.

How does waste-to-energy work?

  1. Waste is burned to produce heat (thermal energy)
  2. The heat is used to turn water into high-pressure steam in a boiler
  3. The rising steam turns the blades of a turbine, converting the thermal energy into mechanical energy
  4. The turbine powers a generator, producing electricity

Some of the energy generated is used to power nearby County facilities. The rest of the power is sold to an energy cooperative for commercial use. The facility recycles water from the adjacent wastewater treatment plant during the power generation process. Advanced air pollution equipment and a continuous emissions monitoring system ensure the facility operates in compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act.

The Hillsborough County Resource Recovery Facility has been in operation since 1987 and:

  • Burns up to 1,800 tons of trash per day
  • Reduces the amount of material that is landfilled by 80 percent
  • Less waste in landfills reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 370,000 metric tons of CO2. That's like taking 79,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.
  • We use waste to produce 47 megawatts of electricity 24/7 - enough to power 23,000 homes for a year.
  • We also recover 19,600 tons of metal for recycling annually - enough to build 15,000 cars.

Take a virtual tour

Visit in person

Adult groups that are interested in an escorted tour of the facility to see how the resource recovery process works can schedule one in advance.

Image Caption: Large cranes transport trash from the delivery dock to the incinerator at Hillsborough County's Resource Recovery Facility on Falkenburg Road.
Posted: 12/1/2023, 12:25:35 PM