Renewed Focus on Landfill Emissions

Date: March 10, 2021

Source: News Room

The newly minted Biden administration is well underway in its push to reduce US greenhouse emissions. Part of those efforts is bringing renewed scrutiny to carbon and methane emissions that originate from landfills.

Landfills are by far the largest emitter within the waste management industry. As trash stews underground, anaerobic bacteria digest the waste and produce both methane and CO2. Methane is widely known to be a much more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2 and reducing it has become one of the focuses of emissions reduction policy aimed at landfills. However, differing calculations and tools available to both industry and regulators have created difficulties in regulating landfill emissions.

Across the US, landfills in different states often face different expectations in terms of emissions targets and the calculations they use to track if they are meeting those targets. Confoundingly, because emissions are so tough to measure, often the final measurement depends on the calculation being used. More accurate measurement tools, like drones and satellites, are often too expensive to be used widely by landfills. As pushes to reduce greenhouse gasses increase, standardizing and improving these measurement techniques will be key to effectively reducing emissions from landfills.

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