When trash ends up in landfills, it’s not just taking up space, but as it breaks down, it also becomes a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas as much as 86 times as potent as CO2. As garbage grows around the world —like a mountain of trash outside New Delhi known locally as Mount Everest, which stands higher than 200 feet tall—so does the problem. One startup wants to eliminate the pollution by essentially vaporizing garbage to turn it into clean energy and fuel. The company, called Sierra Energy , just raised a $33 million Series A investment round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the Bill Gates-led fund that also includes investors like Marc Benioff, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos. [Image: courtesy Sierra Energy] The company isn’t aiming to replace recycling or composting, but to handle the millions of tons of waste that currently goes to landfills. “We take what’s leftover,” says CEO Mike Hart. The technology can process nearly anything, including medical waste and hazardous waste. “It allows you to recycle the entire waste stream,” he says. “The way we do that is by bringing the temperature of waste up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, twice the temperature […]

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