Q. What is MedRecycler proposing?
MedRecycler is proposing to convert medical waste into renewable energy through a system called pyrolysis. The company is committed to being a good and safe neighbor in Rhode Island.
Q. Is MedRecycler constructing a new building?
No. The facility will be housed in a small portion of an existing building within an industrial park.
Q. How large is the facility?
The entire building is a half million square feet. MedRecycler will occupy 48,000 sq, feet of space, or less than ten percent of the building.
Q. What other types of companies operate in this building?
Other industrial uses in the building include another renewable energy company, a document storage company, a food processor, a wire manufacturer and a gym equipment distribution company.
Q. Why did MedRecycler choose this location?
The location is in an industrial park in an area that has been zoned industrial. MedRecycler is exactly the type of industrial use that the zoning ordinances of West Warwick and East Greenwich have envisioned at this location for many years.
Q. How many permanent jobs will MedRecycler create?
The company will create approximately 30 new jobs for local residents once operational and fully completed.
Q. How many construction jobs will be supported during the construction of the facility?
Up to 100 Rhode Island based professional tradesmen, electricians, and construction related jobs will be directly supported during the assembly, build out, and continued maintenance of the facility.
Q. What is happening at the facility now?
MedRecycler’s portion of the building has undergone some basic electrical work required for safety. Some capital improvements have also been made to the roof and doors, along with some construction of administrative offices in preparation for the facility. Some equipment is also being stored there.
Q. What kind of waste will be converted to renewable energy?
Regulated medical waste, as outlined and required by DEM. Only waste approved by DEM will be permitted in the facility.
Q. Will the facility accept radioactive waste?
No. Radioactive waste is not permitted at the facility by DEM and will not be accepted under any circumstances. MedRecycler will closely monitor the waste stream, rejecting and returning any radioactive waste that may be shipped to the facility.
Q. How much waste will the facility receive each day?
Initially up to 35 tons of waste per day will be transformed into renewable energy. Ultimately, the facility will have the ability to convert a maximum of 70 tons of waste per day to renewable energy.
Q. How does the process work? What is “pyrolysis”?
Pyrolysis is a treatment which can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) product. It can be done on pure products as well as mixtures. In this treatment, material is exposed to high temperature, and in the absence of oxygen goes through chemical and physical separation into different molecules. The decomposition takes place thanks to the limited thermal stability of chemical bonds of materials, which allows them to be disintegrated by using the heat.
According to the U.S. EPA, for every ton of municipal solid waste processed at Energy-from-Waste facilities, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by approximately one ton. This is due to the elimination of methane from landfills as the waste decomposes, the offset of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel electrical production and the recovery of metals for recycling.
Q. Isn’t this just burning, or incineration?
No. Burning and incineration require oxygen. Pyrolysis takes place in the complete absence of oxygen.
Q. How is the renewable energy generated and how much is created?
Pyrolysis indirectly heats organic compounds thereby evaporating them into syngas which then is used to power engines that create electricity.
Q. How will the renewable energy be used?
Electricity will initially be used to power the facility and adjacent companies. Eventually it will be sold to the power grid. Ultimately, the facility will generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes per year.
Q. Will the facility discharge waste from the process into the local waste-water system?
The process will generate no waste-water, and none will be disposed into the local waste water system.
Q. What safety systems will be in place?
MedRecycler has been working closely with local safety officials in order to meet all necessary safety requirements. The company is also making a significant investment to install state-of-the-art safety systems. These include:
– Fire suppression system, including fire extinguishers;
– Monitoring of gases in the closed pyrolysis system and the facility environment;
– Extensive biological testing;
– Testing to insure that radioactive material, commonly used in medical procedures, is not received at the facility. (The facility will not accept radioactive medical waste under any circumstances.)
Q. Was the facility granted master plan approval by the West Warwick planning board?
Yes. Approval was granted at a publicly noticed meeting on May 6, 2019.
Q. What West Warwick town approvals are next?
Once MedRecycler has all necessary permits and approvals, it will seek Preliminary and Final plan approvals from the town. There will be an opportunity for public participation as well during that process.
Q. This project was originally proposed for the town of Johnston. What happened to that proposal?
The Town of Johnston approved the proposal, which had broad support from the Mayor and other town officials. The proposal was moved to West Warwick after the landlord at the proposed site significantly increased the cost of the lease. The company subsequently found a more suitable facility in West Warwick. In a letter of support, Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena wrote: “As Mayor of Johnston, I wholeheartedly welcome MedRecycler… I am truly excited to have such a development be part of the Town of Johnston’s future.”
Q. What is the status of the project with DEM? What approvals have been granted? What approvals remain?
MedRecycler has been working with DEM to gain the necessary approvals. The company has submitted an 800-page application and been completely transparent throughout the process. DEM’s Office of Air Resources granted a minor source permit on May 7, 2020. DEM’s Office of Land Revitalization and Sustainable Material Management issued a notice of intent to approve a license on January 11, 2021. MedRecycler has also applied for a license to operate a Medical Waste Treatment Facility.
Q. Are any tax dollars being used to finance the facility?
No. The facility is 100% financed by private investment.
Q. Part of the financing will be through bonds issued by the state. Are these bonds guaranteed by the taxpayers, so that taxpayers will be responsible to repay the bonds if the business fails?
No. There is no state or taxpayer backed guarantee for the bonds. Investors will bear 100% of any business risk associated with the bonds. These bonds are a common and often-used economic development tool that the state uses to create new jobs.
Q. If there’s no taxpayer funding and no state guarantee for the bonds, why was it necessary for the state to issue bonds in the first place?
The bonds issued by the state offer lower interest rates and are a commonly used financing tool for projects of this kind. Again, this is a standard and widely-used approach to generate economic development and create new jobs in Rhode Island.