The Business Case for Commercial and Industrial Waste Conversion

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Contributor Kyle Goehring, JLL’s VP of Alternative Energy Services, discusses waste conversion as a strategy for organizations that seek to reduce their waste output. This topic will be discussed in greater detail at Infocast’s upcoming Waste Conversion Development and Finance Summit at the Law Offices of Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, IL (September 29-October 1, 2015). To register for the summit, please click here

As more and more organizations identify and publicly state their sustainability objectives, waste reduction is increasingly cited as a primary goal. However, the options to reduce waste via traditional waste disposal methods (such as landfills) are limited, and new waste disposal conversion options are often difficult to finance.

The good news is that many organizations are currently making measurable and significant progress in reducing the volume of waste output from their operations. This type of waste reduction is largely driven by enhanced efficiences and improved operational procedures, and can put organizations well within reach of their near-term reduction targets. However, long-term waste reductions goals remain problematic, and are often unattainable without technology implementation.

Trash icon glossy green round buttonFortunately, new developments in waste conversion offer solutions that organizations can implement to supplement their waste reduction programs and achieve their long-term sustainability goals. Anaerobic and aerobic digestion (AD), a proven solution for the conversion of organic waste to renewable biogas, is one such option. While traditionally associated with agricultural operations and waste water treatment, AD has only recently been applied to commercial operations in North America. For example, food producers and grocery stores have implemented AD as a viable solution to both reduce their waste disposal costs and generate lower cost energy. Furthermore, the added benefit to converting organic waste into renewable biogas (which is the lowest carbon-intensity energy source) produces valuable environmental attributes, which can be monetized or retired. Similarly, gasification technology is also gaining widespread traction, particularly in North America, as a large scale waste conversion option. The gasification process converts the non-organic fraction of waste into electricity, which can then be sold to the region where the waste is generated.

As investors increasingly look to waste conversion technologies as safe investments with strong financial returns, it has become easier than ever to obtain financing. While many organizations may still be unaware of their waste conversion options, AD and gasification technologies are no longer perceived as “bleeding edge” and have operational histories that can be referenced to mitigate associated technology risk. Waste conversion technologies can also get wraps from insurance companies to further mitigate concerns about system performance and continuity.

The demand for waste conversion technologies will continue to increase, particularly as awareness spreads and financing becomes more accessible. Moving forward, both private organizations and public institutions will partner with waste conversion technology developers to ensure steady-state and long-term operations. Waste conversion sites will also become increasingly centralized to accommodate multiple entities that produce waste suitable for conversion to energy. Eventually, cities and communities may choose to install public waste conversion parks, to provide a local option to convert waste into something of value.

The business case for waste conversion is compelling. To learn more about this topic, please consider participating in Infocast’s upcoming Waste Conversion Development and Finance Summit.


GoehringHeadshotKyle Goehring is VP of Alternative Energy Services at JLL. In his current role, Kyle supports clients in their review of sustainability objectives; advises on third party and ownership deal structures; negotiates applicable agreements; oversees installation; pursues incentives from utilities and government entities; and can provide ongoing management services at the sites. For Kyle’s full bio, please click here

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