Amongst the components of the refuse of modern societies, the one that potentially could supply the largest amount of energy on combustion is plastics (which are, of course, processed petroleum). So why are there not more efforts to convert this resource to energy, instead of putting nearly all of it into landfills? One of the main environmental concerns about doing that has been that chlorine in some of the waste, and especially polyvinyl chloride, could produce dioxin when burned. Environmental scientists Piasecki, Rainey, and Fletcher examine the best available data on this question and determine that the prospects for trash-to-energy are better than is widely perceived.
Bruce Piasecki, David Rainey, and Kevin Fletcher