The paper and plastic that Beaumont residents throw into their big green garbage cans every week could have a new destination by the end of this year – becoming diesel fuel.
And the other garbage in there, like chicken bones, shrimp hulls, leftover pasta and those fragrant disposable diapers – what becomes of that?
That could be made into fertilizer.
City Manager Kyle Hayes said the plan will not indebt or obligate Beaumont taxpayers in any way.
The city stands to earn $400,000 a year selling its garbage – or about half of what its trucks collect every day – to Fair Energy.
The company plans to raise up to $50 million by selling revenue bonds to build a waste-to-energy plant next to the Beaumont landfill.
The waste-to-energy plant would buy about 200 tons of regular residential garbage per day from the city. The city’s total collection per day is about 400 tons.
The plant would sort the garbage, selecting paper and plastic to make up to 3 million gallons of diesel fuel per year and make it available to the wholesale market.
The fertilizer resulting from the rest of the organic garbage could be sold semi-annually or annually, said Kyle Fair, president of Fair Energy.
Fair said waste-to-energy technology has existed since World War II, but the price of fuel and the capital costs associated with building a plant were always higher than producing diesel from crude oil.
Diesel is the most in-demand fuel around the world, he said.
The company plans to build on about three acres of land in a 39-acre tract next to the city’s Lafin Road landfill that Fair Energy intends to buy from a private owner.
All that the city must do is deliver the solid waste to the new plant instead of driving it to the top of the landfill, said Hani Tohme, the city’s water utilities director whose division includes solid waste.
Tohme said the contract with Fair Energy starts at $400,000 a year and can increase by 3 percent a year after the third year of operation for the balance of the 20 years of the agreement.
“The city has zero risk,” Tohme said. “All the city does is sell them trash.”
Tohme and Fair said the company and the city were introduced to one another by Nick Lampson, who formerly represented the Beaumont area in Congress.
Fair said Beaumont is an attractive location for his company because the city owns its own landfill and controls its own solid waste transportation.
“Our investment bankers are optimistic,” Fair said.
The operation could generate up to 50 jobs, Tohme said.