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U.S. Trends in Solid Waste Management and GHG Emissions
Thorneloe, S. U.S. Trends in Solid Waste Management and GHG Emissions. Presented at Methods to Calculate GHG Mitigation Potentials in Solid Waste Management, June 18 - 19, 2012.
To participate in German EPA workshop on methods to calculate GHG mitigation potentials in solid waste management
In 2009, 243 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) was produced in the United States. Currently, 34% of the 243 million tons of MSW is recovered and recycled or composted which conserves energy and natural resources as well as avoid waste disposal. Of the remaining MSW that is discarded, 12% is burned at combustion facilities and 54% is landfilled. Energy from discarded waste can be generated from recovery of energy from the burning of the waste or landfill gas. A research study has shown that waste combustion is on average six to eleven times more efficient at recovering energy from waste than landfills. To help understand the life-cycle metrics associated with MSW management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Research and Development (ORD) has developed a decision support tool (DST) that provides optimization software to identify sustainable solutions for managing MSW while considering carbon emissions, energy, air criteria pollutants, waterborne pollutants, and cost. For the workshop, the DST is applied to evaluate trends in U.S. GHG emissions over time in assoication with changes in waste management practices.