Seeking Sustainable Oil? Turn to Trash!

It’s no surprise that oil and coal companies are having a banner year. Earthquakes in Japan and revolutions in Africa have oil riding a profitable wave of instability. The Wall Street Journal noted that rising gas prices are a boon to oil companies even as costs pinch consumers.

Fortunately there are plenty of energy innovators waiting in the wings, and high gas prices open up unique opportunities for renewable energy small businesses and research institutions. Planet Forward has been highlighting the best innovations from individuals and clean energy companies, and our members are helping select the best new idea for our Planet Forward special on PBS this month.

But we're not waiting to see what some of the leaders of the clean tech movement have to say about oil prices, renewable energy and the way out of the oil price cycle. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm led the way with an innovative plan to turn the trash in landfills into the next fuel for the American vehicle fleet.

Speaking to Planet Forward in early March, Granholm pushed for a nation free from sprawling landfills. “I've actually talked with a number of venture capitalists who are looking at this trash, municipal waste garbage to energy in your home. Can you imagine if you could take your trash compactor, put your waste in and out the other end comes gasoline for your car?”

Granholm isn’t alone. Linda Rose-Myers of Ecotech Fuels developed a trash-based fuel. Ecotech’s work is proving successful, and the company recently announced plans to purchase yet another research facility, this one for the study of sustainable heat and power generation.

Join in the discussion! Would you buy a Honda that ran on hamburger wrappers? How would you improve on Ecotech’s model? Share your thoughts and comments - and post your own videos - at Planet Forward.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.