Onyx Waste Services is the fourth-largest waste management company in North America. Sister company Onyx Montenay Power operates ten waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that convert over 3.8 million tonnes of waste to energy each year. Onyx Waste Services is exploiting the sister company’s knowledge to exploit the gas generated from the 21 landfills it owns or operates, primarily located in the Southeast, the Midwest and Pennsylvania. Onyx’s landfill gas projects offset the use of more than 2.5 million barrels of oil annually.
The company has already incorporated bioreactor technology at most of its landfills. Bioreactors, which can increase landfill gas generation by a factor of three to 10 times, introduce air and liquid back into landfills to accelerate biodegradation and generate commercial-scale gas volumes. Onyx conducted bioreactor research in the mid-1990s, making use of its coordinating research center in France, where parent company Veolia Environnement is based. The company found that bioreactors can reduce leachate toxicity by up to 90 per cent, since the landfill is anaerobic and microbes digest the organic acids in leachate, absorbing and breaking down contaminants.
Onyx holds the contract to manage the Miami-Dade County Resources Recovery Facility until year 2023. Annually, this facility generates up to 76 megawatts of energy from 1.2 million tonnes of garbage. A three-megawatt landfill gas-to-energy plant generates enough electricity to power 2,600 households for Dairyland Power in La Cross, Wisconsin. Eight 30-kilowatt microturbines at Onyx’s Glacier Ridge Landfill provide electricity for about 100 homes in Horicon, Wisconsin.
Onyx’s Oak Ridge Landfill in Ballwin, Missouri supplies two million cubic feet per day of landfill gas directly through a 4.5-mile pipeline to fuel boilers at the DaimlerChrysler assembly plant in a suburb of St. Louis. This fuel, which supplies 70 per cent of the boilers’ requirements, should last 25 years. The company’s landfill in Zion, Illinois, sends fuel to Houston-based Energy Development’s (EDI) 5.4 MW facility and electricity is sold that powers over 5,400 homes. Onyx’s Valley View Landfill in Decatur, Illinois generates 1.5 MWs of power, and its Arbor Hills Landfill in Northville, Michigan generates 17.5 MWs of electricity.