LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new $20 million methane plant at a landfill in Lawrence is turning trash into an energy source.

The plant at the Hamm landfill has begun collecting harmful greenhouse gas produced by rotting trash and turning it into fuel for natural-gas-powered vehicles, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .

Hamm officials said at a ceremony Wednesday that the new plant joins other recent projects that lessen the landfill's environmental impact, including a recycling center and a new system for capping landfills.

"All of these projects are a great story for the community," said Charlie Sedlock, director of waste services at Hamm. "Added taxes, added jobs, added sustainability."

The plant collects and processes methane gas that is released as organic material when trash decomposes. The plant includes extraction wells, a gas-processing facility and a seven-mile gas pipeline.

The methane plant is expected to collect more than 4 million gallons of fuel a year, said Chris Morley, chief financial officer for Enerdyne, which has partnered with Hamm for the plant.

Morley said the primary purposes of the plant are to assist the landfill in mitigating its methane emissions and to use those emissions to create a significant energy source.

"A number of municipalities and trucking fleets are converting their vehicles to natural gas vehicles, and our renewable natural gas is going to supply that," he said.

The landfill serves about 500,000 Kansas residents. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that landfills produce about 20 percent of all methane emissions.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the plant helps reduce the area's environmental impact.

"We have so much to be proud of," Thellman said. "Unlike many. ... communities in our nation, we have a landfill that is an absolute asset. Not just as a place to take waste, but as a place to remove dangerous gas from our hurting atmosphere and put it where it belongs."


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,