Going green, making green

NEWTON, NC (WBTV) -- The City of Newton is turning trash into cash.  But, it's not a greedy venture.  It's a groundbreaking green plan that is also a big boost to the environment, and it's putting Catawba County's green movement in the national spotlight.

When Barry Edwards sees trash, he thinks money.

Edwards works as the director of utilities and engineering in Catawba County.

It's been using methane from a county landfill to produce electricity since 1999.

"Each one of these units that you see behind us are 1 megawatt each," Edwards points out. "We're putting three megawatts to the grid. That serves approximately 1500 homes.

The county sells that electricity earning about 650 thousand dollars every


It's keeping residential waste bills low, but also funding

the start of an 800 acre eco complex.

"We're applying what is known as industrial ecology to waste management," Edwards says. "..making one man's garbage, another man's treasure. Entity to entity. An output stream of one industry is the input stream of another industry. Trying to make zero waste."

Next month construction begins on a bio diesel production

facility that will harness the heat emitted from these landfill powered


The heat breaks down the seeds from these sunflowers, converting them to bio

diesel. the crops are grown by local farmers within the eco complex.

"What leaves our site is a commodity," says Edwards. "What comes into our site we're going to make a commodity out of."

The county is not alone. It is partnering with private industry like this

pallet factory and this lumber yard within the eco complex.

The wood waste from these facilities will eventually be converted into


Plans are also set to convert waste water to power as well as on site plastic

recycling. this entire green initiative has been the number one priority for

the county's board of commissioners.

I think the biggest overall benefit will be if we see this facility grow and become an economic development tool that will help create jobs for our

community," says commissioner Lynn Lail.