On April 4, 1972, Union Electric Company became the first to generate electrical energy from solid waste, at the Meramec Power Station near St. Louis, Missouri. Using household garbage as a supplement to coal, the plant produced 10 percent of its power from refuse. The city of St. Louis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Union Electric Company cooperated on the project to demonstrate that using waste as fuel could improve the environment, conserve resources, and be economically feasible.
 
In the years since the Meramec power plant first incinerated waste to produce electricity, waste-to-energy initiatives have become popular throughout the world. Today, waste is not the only material burned to produce energy. Byproducts of waste, such as methane gas, are also captured and used as a clean energy source. As the worldwide demand for energy grows, waste-to-energy projects will only grow in importance. They provide an alternative to fossil fuels and have a variety of economic and environmental benefits.
capture
Verb

to take or control.

coal
Noun

dark, solid fossil fuel mined from the earth.

conserve
Verb

to save or use wisely.

cooperation
Noun

the act of working together.

demonstrate
Verb

to show how something is done.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

electricity
Noun

set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge.

energy
Noun

capacity to do work.

environment
Noun

conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

feasible
Adjective

possible.

fossil fuel
Noun

coal, oil, or natural gas. Fossil fuels formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals.

garbage
Noun

trash or waste material.

generate
Verb

to create or begin.

incinerate
Verb

to burn up entirely.

initiative
Noun

first step or move in a plan.

methane
Noun

chemical compound that is the basic ingredient of natural gas.

resource
Noun

available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.

supplement
Verb

to increase or add to.

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