Lehigh Southwest Cement passed a final hurdle on Feb. 6 when it secured all of its permits to use alternative fuels for cement production at its Tehachapi, Calif., plant, reported the Tehachapi News. The company will use engineered municipal solid waste in a bid to partially replace fossil fuels.

Craig Mifflin, Lehigh’s public affairs manager, noted the move to partially replace its fossil fuel systems will benefit the environment by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reduce fossil fuel use, provide an environmentally friendly re-use of municipal waste and reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Engineered municipal solid waste, or EMSW, is garbage that has all recyclable materials like plastic bottles, cans, glass as well as dirt, rocks and food wastes removed. The only thing left is mostly non-recyclable paper and plastics like grocery bags, which will be shredded up and transported to the Lehigh facility.

Lehigh will use part of its current facility to convert the solid waste. According to Jeffrey Marshall of the Kern County Environmental Health, Lehigh is the first company in California to use an EMSW conversion facility.

Marshall added now that Lehigh has received all its permits, the county will conduct monthly inspections to ensure that all air quality requirements are met.

Mifflin stated that for now Lehigh will have to import engineered municipal solid waste from outside sources, but has been in talks with Kern County on the matter. “This is a very exciting time for us at Lehigh and we are thrilled to be moving forward with such an environmentally friendly and sustainable precedent,” Mifflin said.

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