November News Round-Up

Today the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) kicks off in Paris, and what better way to inaugurate this serious issue than to round up some of the sillier effects of methane emissions? A Malaysia-bound Singapore Airlines flight packed with over 2,000 sheep learned its lesson when it had to be diverted to Bali because the methane from the sheep defecation set off the plane’s fire alarms. Meanwhile in Australia, scientists debunked the myth that kangaroos don’t fart.

But let’s also celebrate some of the creative ways that organizations around the world are mitigating methane! A family farm in France has significantly cut its cattle herd’s enteric fermentation methane emissions by feeding the cows more grass and less maize and soy. A Toyota manufacturing plant in Kentucky, USA, has begun to generate its electricity from a nearby landfill. A French zoo is using the 100 kilograms of dung produced per day by its grey African elephant to create biogas to keep its gorillas and manatees warm and supply renewable power to the national grid. Likewise, developers are currently installing a large biogas project in Missouri, USA, that will convert hog manure into 2.2 billion cubic feet of pipeline-quality natural gas in its first phase. A Boston-based company is extracting clean water and methane from waste streams at two California breweries with a secret set of microbes. A United Nations task force has valued the world’s human feces at $9.5 billion if it could be turned into an energy resource. Finally, a climate-friendly strain of rice that gives off negligible methane wins a Popular Science award. Three cheers for cleantech and innovation!

Bubbles of methane trapped in thermokarst lakes, which form as permafrost thaws. Photo credit: Miriam Jones, United States Geological Survey, Alaska, USA.

Now for the obligatory sobering news: remember those perplexing giant craters found in Siberia last year, thought to be the result of built-up methane from melting permafrost?  Well, scientists have discovered a similar phenomenon happening on the currently frozen seabed of the Arctic Ocean. Meanwhile, the west coast of the United States is experiencing some methane problems: an old gas storage site in Los Angeles has been leaking for over a month, and plumes of methane are bubbling up from the seafloor off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for the latest methane news coming from COP21!


November Methane News Round-Up

Featured Project Network Members

Innovative waste management solutions in India

Henry Ferland, co-director of the GMI ASG, and Swarupa Ganguli, Team Lead for the U.S. EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, at a biomethanation plant in Pune, India.

In October, a delegation of representatives of GMI’s Municipal Solid Waste Sector and Administrative Support Group (ASG) conducted a scoping mission to India in support of GMI’s work there. The delegation visited several cities, including East Delhi, Pune, and Coimbatore, met with representatives of the national and local governments, and observed innovative solutions to waste management challenges in all three cities.


With a sizable district population of 1.3 million, East Delhi faces ongoing challenges to managing its solid waste, including tracking logistics. GMI visited the Ghazipur landfill and waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, the Okhla composting plant, and the Timarpur Okhla WTE plant with municipal officials.

Despite being at full capacity, the Ghazipur landfill continues to receive waste from East Delhi. The city has implemented a small pilot LFG energy project that collects gas across 4 hectares of the landfill. Electricity generation is expected for use on site by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Ghazipur WTE plant produces refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from the 500 tons of waste it receives each day. Currently, the RDF is provided free of cost to local industrial facilities that are testing its effectiveness in direct-use applications. In the future, the RDF will be used to generate electricity at a yet-to-be completed power plant.

The Oklha composting plant treats raw municipal solid waste from neighboring areas in South Delhi. The plant treats approximately 500 tons of waste per day using the wind-row composting technique. The composting process is completed in 40 days, and the compost is sold to farmers in bags or by the ton.

The Timarpur Okhla WTE plant receives approximately 2,500 tons of waste per day, which it incinerates and turns into electricity using a boiler. The WTE plant has an electricity generation capacity of 16 MW, which the city then sells to the grid.


One of 20 small biomethanation plants distributed throughout the city of Pune, India.

The city of Pune has a decentralized anaerobic digestion program termed biomethanation for the treatment of organic waste from hotels and apartment buildings. Today, the program consists of 20 biomethanation plants operating at full capacity (10 tons per day); another 5 plants are in the process of being commissioned.

The GMI delegation visited one of the city’s biomethanation plants located adjacent to Peshwe Park. Every day, the plant receives and treats 10 tons of organic waste that is collected from hotels and apartments and manually treated to remove contaminants. The plant currently generates 500 cubic meters of biogas per day, enough to produce approximately 40 kilowatts of electricity. The electricity is used to power public lighting of parks and streets.


The Coimbatore Municipal Corporation (CMC) operates a waste segregation program in 20 of the city’s 100 wards. The GMI delegation visited one of these wards to observe the program in operation. In that ward, 14 two-person teams use push carts to collect waste in the designated areas of the ward to which they have been assigned.

Two-person teams collect and segregate waste in Coimbatore, India.

Each team collects waste from approximately 300 households, six days per week (from Monday to Saturday). The waste is segregated by the sanitation workers at the point of collection into different categories: organic waste for compost or biomethanation, organic waste for fuel, mixed paper, high-grade plastics, low-grade plastics, cardboard, glass bottles, and carry bags. These segregated materials are then taken to a collection point where they are weighed and recorded. In addition to an established monthly salary, the sanitation workers receive payment commensurate with the amount of materials they collect.

Storage bins for sorted waste materials, awaiting recycling or reuse.

The materials are stored at the collection point until they are sold to third parties, such as scrap dealers and recyclers. When one ton of a specified material has been collected, that material is picked up at the collection point. For materials that have been accumulated in lesser quantities, the operators sell the materials at different markets. In addition to scrap materials, cardboard, white paper, and bottles, some organic waste is sold for re-use. For example, recovered coconuts are reused to make activated carbon, straw, and mosquito repellents.

UNECE and Poland to establish joint International Centre of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Republic of Poland have joined together to establish an International Centre of Excellence (ICE) on Coal Mine Methane. Operated by the UNECE Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and hosted by Poland’s Central Mining Institute (Główny Instytut Górnictwa, GIG), the ICE will act as a clearinghouse and training center for the entire region. The ICE will broadly engage coal mining stakeholders and the general public, in order to raise awareness about opportunities for methane mitigation and distribute best practices for the capture and reuse of methane from the entire coal sector, from production to final use.

“The centre will put Poland on the map of climate change mitigation efforts. It is time for action. Onsite training that provides concrete, hands-on learning experience is needed to translate good practices into tangible results. We invite all United Nations Member States that exploit coal mines to benefit from the expertise of the centre.”

-Jerzy Pietrewicz, State Secretary, Ministry of Economy, Poland

In May 2015, U.S. EPA GMI Coal Subcommittee Co-Chair Felicia Ruiz and the Chair and Secretariat of the UNECE Group of Experts on CMM met with representatives of the Polish Ministries of Economy, Treasury and Foreign Affairs to advance development of the ICE. Following up on that work, on 2 November 2015 UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach and Jerzy Pietrewicz of Poland’s Ministry of the Economy signed a Memorandum of Understanding formally creating the ICE.

Last chance to give feedback to U.S. EPA Methane Challenge Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requests your feedback about its proposed new methane challenge program. The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program provides a new framework through which companies could make and track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. It is built on stakeholder input and reflects the need for a more robust voluntary program. EPA recently released its draft Supplementary Technical Information and encourages U.S. and international stakeholders to provide feedback by 13 November 2015. If you are interested in providing feedback, you can submit your feedback online or by email to

If you have questions about the proposal or wish to schedule a meeting, please contact GMI Oil & Gas Subcommittee member, Carey Bylin, at (202) 343-9669 or by email at


GMI Outreach in China

In October 2015, MSW Subcommittee Co-Chair, Tom Frankiewicz, traveled to China to participate in an international waste conference and conduct a training workshop.


Tom presented GMI’s new Urban Municipal Waste and Wastewater Program at the International Solid Waste Management Conference, held in Suzhou by the China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation (CAUES) and International Solid Waste Association.

Heinz-Peter Mang, University of Science and Technology - Beijing, (left) and Mark Hudgins, GeoCost (right)

Heinz-Peter Mang, University of Science and Technology – Beijing, (left) and Mark Hudgins, GeoCost (right) presenting at GMI’s training seminar in Ningbo, China.

GMI conducted a 2-day training seminar for municipal officials and other stakeholders to develop best practices for the handling and treatment of food waste in Ningbo, China. Representatives from the World Bank and the Ningbo Environment and Sanitation Management Office made opening remarks at the training seminar. Once operational, Ningbo will be the first residential food waste separation, collection and treatment project in China. The summary of the training workshop is available in both English and Chinese.

Zhang Yue, MOHURD (left) and Tan Hau, CAUES (right)

Tom met with Zhang Yue, Director-General, with Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development (MOHURD) and Tau Hau with CAUES to discuss MOHURD’s interest in collaborating with GMI to advance organics and sludge treatment best practices.