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Environmental Technologies
Our team of U.S. and international industry specialists are dedicated to enhancing the global competitiveness of the U.S. environmental technologies industry, expanding market access, and increasing exports.
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U.S. Environmental Technologies Resource Guide
Review opportunities, challenges, and important market details highlighted by environmental technologies specialists from around the world.

Waste Management and Recycling

Municipal Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste, Recycling, and Resource Recovery Overview

The soil media category includes solid and hazardous waste management, recycling and resource recovery, and soil pollution prevention and remediation technologies. Like municipal water treatment, municipal solid waste is subject to a high degree of regulatory burden due to the public policy considerations related to waste management. The technologies needed by this sector depend on the composition and properties of the waste generated. Revenues for the U.S. solid waste and recycling industry equaled $97.7 billion in 2017, predominantly from waste management services. The recycling industry is driven by demand from materials markets and its growth is dependent on the price of commodities and other economic factors. The U.S. hazardous waste management industry, which deals with industrial wastes that require independent treatment and storage technologies due to the potential for contamination, accounted for $20.3 billion in revenues in 2017.

Key Market Trends and Themes for the Global Waste Management and Recycling Industry Sustainable Materials Management

Sustainable materials management (SMM) is a systems-wide approach that meets the needs of society while simultaneously reducing materials use, waste generation and negative environmental, social, and economic impacts. Materials and resources (including land, energy and water) are used and reused effectively and efficiently throughout their life cycles (including extraction, processing, design, manufacturing, production, use, reuse, end-of-life management and all transportation). Historically, societies have viewed the life cycle of a product as linear, e.g. from production, to use, to disposal. SMM is an alternative approach that emphasizes the productive use and reuse of materials throughout their lifecycle. Beginning with materials extraction and following with each stage in a product’s life, the product – or more precisely, the materials from which it is made – are viewed as key and valuable inputs for other processes. The goal is to minimize the amount of materials involved and all associated environmental impacts and waste generation. SMM has become popular among policymakers and the public to address life cycle environmental impacts of materials. It can also help industries decrease costs associated with the purchase of typically expensive virgin materials, as well as enhance efficiency and reduce materials losses during production.

Conversion Technologies

Solid waste conversion technologies include gasification, plasma arc gasification, anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, and thermal depolymerization. These technologies differ from traditional waste incineration processes because they do not involve combustion. Instead, they typically use thermal degradation or electric current to convert the solid waste to liquid fuels, syngas, biogas, heat, electricity and/or chemical products, depending on the inputs and the process. Most of these conversion technologies are proven for homogenous waste streams and are operating commercially in several locations outside of the United States. There is limited data on their effectiveness for mixed waste or municipal solid waste feedstocks, particularly on a larger scale. Market opportunities for conversion technologies are likely to expand with the increase of waste generated by the growing global population. According to the Global Energy Council’s 2016 Waste-to-Energy report, in 2013 the global waste-to-energy market (including both  traditional incineration as well as conversion technologies) was valued at $25.32 billion.