The search for the good in garbage: a look at Wichita's own pyrolysis pilot plant and the history of the resource recovery movement in the United States from the Gilded Age to the 1990s

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Embargo End Date
Gumm, Angela Shannon
Dehner, George

Is there good in garbage? This thesis assumes that while it might not always be economical, safe or immediately worthwhile to get to it, that there is good in garbage. People in the United States have been trying—sometimes without much notice, sometimes with plenty—for over one-hundred years to extract that good, using scientific means. Costs, bureaucracy, failures, safety, perceptions and politics have all been part of American’s attitudes towards resource recovery. This paper explores the history of the Waste to Energy movement in the United States from the Gilded Age until resource recovery was eclipsed by the popularity of recycling. It also looks at the unique trash situation in Wichita, Kansas, and the efforts of local inventor Bill Compton to build a pyrolysis pilot plant and to persuade the city to consider pyrolysis as a viable alternative to a new landfill.

Table of Content
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History
"December 2006."
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 120-128)