Science Inventory

THE IMPACT OF MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

Citation:

Weitz, K., S. Nishtala, S. A. Thorneloe*, AND M. Zannes. THE IMPACT OF MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN THE UNITED STATES. JOURNAL OF AIR & WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION. Air & Waste Management Association, Pittsburgh, PA, 52(9):1000-1011, (2002).

Description:

Technological advancements in United States (U.S.) municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal and a focus on the environmental advantages of integrated MSW management have greatly reduced the environmental impacts of MSW management, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This study was conducted to track changes in GHG emissions over time from the management of MSW. A baseline 1974 MSW management strategy, consisting of limited recycling and landfilling without gas collection, was compared to today's integrated MSW management strategies that include recycling, composting, waste-to-energy combustion, and landfills with gas collection and energy recovery. Included in the analysis are the benefits of materials recycling and energy recovery to the extent that these displace virgin raw materials and fossil fuel electricity production, respectively. The impact of MSW management decisions on carbon sinks is also addressed.

The results show that the actions taken in U.S. communities have significantly reduced potential GHG emissions. GHG emissions from MSW management in 1974 were estimated to be 36 million metric tons carbon equivalents (MMTCE). Yet, even with doubled waste generation today, modem MSW management techniques has lowered estimated GHG emissions to 10 MMTCE. Without today's MSW management practices, annual GHG emissions would be nearly 5 I MMTCE. Thus, more than 41 N4MTCE per year are being avoided as compared to potential GHG emissions if 1974 practices were still being used.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 09/01/2002
Record Last Revised: 12/22/2005
Record ID: 65618

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY

AIR POLLUTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL DIVISION

ATMOSPHERIC PROTECTION BRANCH