Monday, June 15, 2009

Just how much energy is there in the waste we send to landfill?
  • Estimates vary but somewhere between 1 and 2 billion tonnes of waste go to landfill each year in North America
  • Landfill is our biggest single source of greenhouse gas. 37% of the methane generated in North America is generated by landfill.
  • Methane is 21 times as powerful as CO2 as a greenhouse gas
  • Each ton of solid waste contains about 50% of the energy contained in a ton of coal
  • Only about 2% of the energy in waste sent to landfill is captured and used
For how long can we allow this travesty to continue?

We have to see waste, not as a liability to be disposed of as expediently as possible but as a domestic distributed source of energy. Once we achieve this, we can put up plants that are capable of transforming this waste into valuable forms of energy, such as electricity, fuels and chemical feedstocks, close to the supply of waste. What ever is needed in a particular market can then determine what each plant should be producing.

As citizens we need to demand that our local governments no longer send waste to landfill. This should be a last resort, not the default that it currently is. Most of them wont act until they have no way of avoiding it.

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