Like many booming metros, Tampa is finding that more people equals more garbage. In response, officials there are leaning into an approach popular in Florida: Set it on fire.

“All areas that are experiencing growth are going to find issues of capacity” for managing waste, said Jack Mariano, the commissioner of Pasco County, just north of Tampa’s Hillsborough County. “Everybody’s facing: Where are we gonna put the trash?”

In September, Pasco authorities approved a $540 million plan to add a fourth boiler to the county’s waste-to-energy facility, or WTE, boosting capacity at the incinerator complex by around 50% while feeding more power — from a turbine spun by steam heated through garbage burning — to the electric grid.

Authorities plan to tap Inflation Reduction Act funds to offset about $60 million of the project, targeted for completion in summer 2026, Mariano said. The plant is one of three in the Tampa area that process solid waste, but it currently can handle less than two-thirds as much as a nearby Hillsborough WTE and a third the volume of Pinellas County’s to the west, a facility official said.

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