Detroit not to purchase Covanta incinerator

Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has announced that the city will not purchase the waste-to-energy plant that has processed approximately two-thirds of the city’s waste since it was built in 1991.

This decision comes after last month’s announcement that the city would not renew its lease with the plant operators, Covanta Energy. Instead, the city, one of a few that does not currently have a recycling program already in place, plans to implement a pilot curbside recycling program and send the rest of the trash to landfills.

The city accounts for almost a third of the trash that the incinerator burns, and should the city stop sending trash, the incinerator may be hard pressed to remain in operation. But despite the city’s plans, a contract provision dictates that the plant owners, Energy Investors funds of Boston, may require waste to be incinerated if the plant can match or beat local landfill bids.