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Municipal Solid Waste

Methane Mitigation Matters: Biogas
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Municipal solid waste (MSW) management and treatment activities are sources of methane (CH4) emissions worldwide.

There are opportunities to reduce CH4 emissions by collecting the CH4 containing landfill gas and using it to fuel boilers, engines, or other technologies. CH4 emissions from MSW can also be reduced by modifying how the waste is treated. For example, organic fractions of the MSW stream can be diverted from landfills and instead disposed of at anaerobic digesters, composting facilities, or waste-to-energy facilities. Using these climate friendly MSW solutions can yield energy, economic, environmental, and public health benefits.

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Tools & Resources

Naucalpan, Mexico Waste Characterization Study (2018, Video)

In March 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – as a lead partner in the Waste Initiative – conducted a waste characterization study at the municipality’s transfer station. The study indicated that approximately 69% of the waste handled at the transfer station could be recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill, and that more than half of the waste could be used as feedstock in composting or anaerobic digestion projects. The municipality is using the results of the study to inform decision making about the project design and procurement options.

Scaling Sludge Mountains: Breaking Down Barriers for Chinese Cities to Turn Sludge Waste into Energy (2018, PDF, 44pp, 1.9MB)

The Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum (CEF) produced this sludge scoping report for the U.S. EPA and the Global Methane Initiative. The report describes drivers that created mountains of municipal sludge, introduces key political and research entities involved in sludge regulation in China, reviews obstacles in adoption of anaerobic digestion, provides a case study of the challenges facing sludge-to-energy projects, and highlights opportunities for U.S. government, cities, and companies to engage with Chinese government agencies.

OrganEcs Exiting Global Methane Initiative

OrganECS coverOrganEcs aims to help local decision makers in their first evaluation of different treatment options (e.g., composting options and/or anaerobic digestion options). OrganEcs helps users determine the economic feasibility of waste management scenarios by calculating tipping fees, sales of products (e.g., organic compost), and the internal rate of return. OrganEcs use requires expert support.

SWEET Exiting Global Methane Initiative

SWEET coverSWEET is a free Excel tool created by the Waste Initiative. SWEET helps users scope emissions sources such as waste collection and transportation, open burning, landfill gas collection systems, organic waste management projects, waste handling equipment (e.g., bulldozers), and waste incineration facilities. It estimates waste sector emissions including methane, black carbon, and several other pollutants. It also evaluates emissions reduction benefits of multiple alternative waste management scenarios.

International Best Practices Guide for Landfill Gas Energy Projects

IBPG coverThe Global Methane Initiative’s new International Best Practices Guide for Landfill Gas Energy (LFGE) Projects provides a broad overview of the development process for LFGE projects and presents the technological, economic and political considerations that typically affect the success of LFGE projects in international settings. The guide presents best practices that encourage environmentally and economically sound LFGE projects and connects stakeholders with available information, tools and services. It is intended for representatives of national, regional, and local governments; landfill owners; energy service providers; corporations and industries; and representatives of not-for-profit organizations.

Landfill Gas Modeling Tools

Several country-specific landfill gas generation models have been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Landfill Methane Outreach Program. These models were created to help landfill owners and operators and other interested parties evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of collecting and using LFG for energy recovery. The models are provided in the Resources section of the country pages.

Global Methane Initiative Guide to On-Line Landfill Gas Resources (XLS, 221 KB)
This guide has been formatted so that you can filter and search for resources by:

  • Topic: LFG recovery and use, clean development mechanisms, climate change, and renewable energy
  • Type of resource: guidance documents, pre-feasibility studies, databases, case studies, software, approved methodologies, and more
  • Applicable country or region, and
  • Authoring organization

Resource Packet for Industrial Use of Landfill Gas

This resource packet includes several tools to assist in a preliminary evaluation of a direct-use project.

Listed below are descriptions of the content and use for each tool in the packet:

  • Direct-Use of Landfill Gas for Energy - This fact sheet provides a brief introduction to direct-use project types, the economic and environmental benefits of these projects, and considerations that should be addressed during the development of a direct use project.
  • Adapting Boilers to Utilize Landfill Gas - This fact sheet discusses the technical and engineering issues associated with using LFG in boilers originally designed to burn other fuels. Since the most common application of LFG at an industrial facility is boilers, this fact sheet will help you understand what type of modifications are required to utilize LFG in a boiler. Although it is focused on boilers, many of the modifications required to allow a boiler to utilize LFG also pertain to other equipment considered for LFG utilization.
  • Industrial Facility Data Collection Form - Outlines the basic information needed to begin an evaluation of an industrial facility for a direct-use project by understanding its energy utilization profile. This data collection form is intended as a general guide for preliminary evaluation and should not be assumed to capture all important aspects critical to a successful direct-use project.
  • Direct-Use of Landfill Gas for Energy - This fact sheet provides a brief introduction to direct-use project types, the economic and environmental benefits of these projects, and considerations that should be addressed during the development of a direct use project.
  • Solid Waste Disposal Site Data Collection Form - Outlines the basic information needed to evaluate an SWD for its energy potential and suitability for a direct-use project.
  • International Unit Conversion Table - Units of measurement for SWD sites and energy projects can vary throughout the world, and this table will help translate units common to LFGE projects.

The material in this packet can help you conduct a preliminary evaluation of a direct-use project. Successfully capitalizing on the value of these opportunities requires careful evaluation, and GMI can provide assistance with all the steps of the evaluation process.

World Bank Data Collection Tool for Urban Solid Waste Management

The new Data Collection Tool for Urban Solid Waste Management was developed by the World Bank Exiting Global Methane Initiative in collaboration with the Global Methane Initiative’s MSW sector. The tool provides a framework to assist with collecting important solid waste and waste management data to facilitate new and ongoing strategic planning, support and project development. It is intended for use by municipalities and local representatives, project developers, site operators, and potential investors.

Additional Resources for Municipal Solid Waste

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