Thursday Open Line

Many people who use computers regularly will recognize the saying “garbage in — garbage out.” In these days of intensive search for alternative ways to create power, the words have become “garbage in — energy out,” as a number of power plants burn garbage instead of fossil fuels. The first power plant in the U.S. to burn garbage was the Union Electric Company in St. Louis, Missouri, on this day in 1972. The U.S. now burns about 14 percent of its trash, compared to the 54 percent of the world leader, Denmark. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear power currently generate most electricity used in the U.S. Over 4 trillion kilowatt hours are generated, of which almost 19 billion are created by incinerating waste. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.