April News Round-Up

On April 22nd (Earth Day), world leaders from 175 countries signed the historic Paris climate accord, drawing attention to some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues – including methane.

The issue of food waste received a lot of attention during the month. According to Reuters, between 30 and 40 percent of food produced around the world is never eaten, because it spoils after harvest and during transportation or is thrown away by shops or consumers. Reuters’ report focused on a new study that concluded up to 14 percent of emissions from agriculture in 2050 could be avoided by managing food use and distribution better. The Washington Post also described different countries’ efforts to target this problem, from a bill in the UK that proposes targets for manufacturers and distributors to reduce certain food waste to an effort in California to change the wording on the expiration dates on packaged food to prevent consumers from throwing away products that are still safe to eat. Meanwhile, two articles detail anaerobic digestion projects in Colorado, USA and northwestern England that capture methane emissions from food waste.

Another big story was the upward revision of methane emissions from the oil & gas sector in the United States, surpassing ruminant livestock as the largest source of methane emissions. As the Aliso Canyon methane leak demonstrated, one of the greatest hurdles to reducing methane emissions is plugging leaks in the storage tanks, pipes, and other equipment that drillers use to extract and transport oil and gas. A Washington Post story delves in depth on whether the rise of U.S. methane emissions can be attributed to the oil & gas sector, featuring the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Drew Shindell. In northern Texas, so-called ‘methane sleuths’ have taken the initiative to monitor emissions from oil and gas drilling in the area.

Finally, Canada’s Global News reports on why it’s so critical to capture methane from coal mines – don’t forget to view the video.

April Methane News Round-Up

 

Global Methane Forum Presentations – China Waste Session

Over the coming weeks Methane International will feature presentations from the 2016 Global Methane Forum. First out of the gate is a set of presentations from the plenary session China’s Food Waste and Sludge Management Practices, Challenges, and Lessons Learned held on 29 March 2016. This session provided presentations and a panel discussion about current practices, challenges, and lessons learned for managing organic waste in China.

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Panel members at the discussion following the session’s presentations. Left to right: Ms. Lijin Zhong of the World Resources Institute; Mr. Zhang Yue, Director General of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development; and Mr. Tom Frankiewicz,  U.S. EPA and chair of GMI’s Municipal Solid Waste Subcommittee.

Mr. Zhang Yue, Director General of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development

Director-General Zhang delivered a keynote address highlighting organic waste management challenges and successes in China. His talk introduced the audience to the state of affairs of waste management in China, setting the stage for the sector-specific presentations that followed. DG Zhang closed his remarks with a vision for “greening” Chinese cities through low carbon waste practices. He emphasized the connection between urban municipal solid waste and wastewater treatment and methane emissions and the opportunities for reducing these emissions in China.

 

Sing (Terry) Cho, Senior Water & Sanitation Specialist with the World Bank

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Terry Cho presenting on the World Bank’s recent projects around wastewater management in Chinese urban areas.

Terry presented the results of a recently completed project on urban wastewater sewage sludge management in China, and summarized international best practices in sludge management. Currently, China mostly lacks advanced sludge management treatment but conditions are favorable for the introduction of new technologies and practices, particularly anaerobic digestion, and especially if incorporated into urban management plans. Terry closed by outlining some of the components of the World Bank’s recommended guidelines for developing an effective sludge management master plan for China.

 

 

Lijin Zhong, China Water Lead, and Vijay Jagannathan, Senior Fellow, with the World Resources Institute

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The World Resources Institute’s Vijay Jagannathan presenting sludge-to-energy case studies.

Lijin and Vijay highlighted the importance of viewing waste as a resource and highlighted successful case studies of organic sludge-to-energy projects in China. Presentation and summary coming soon!

 

Li Yong, International Marketing Manager with Bioland Group

Li offered a private sector perspective on the challenges and opportunities for food waste management in China. She started with a general overview of the food waste market in China: the country currently produces more than 30 million tonnes of food waste per year, of which only about 30% is recycled. Food waste management faces several challenges in China, such as safe collection and sorting practices, frequent disconnect with local authorities, and a lack of new technology and efficient management systems. She highlighted as a case study example the new Bioland Food Waste Treatment Project in Nanning, China. Fully cooperating with municipal authorities to ensure a steady waste stream, the new project utilizes state-of-the-art technology to ensure efficient organic waste sorting, recycling, and anaerobic digestion of more than 200 tonnes of food waste per day, and produces biogas-upgraded compressed natural gas, fertilizer, and clean water.

Sustainable Waste Management One Landfill at a Time

Thanks to all who participated in the Global Methane Forum. We’ll be using this blog to highlight some of the presentations from the Forum in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this report on an integrated solid waste management training that took place in January.

The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) held its “Winter School” in January 2016 at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and The City of Denton, Texas. Organized by UTA’s Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS), the training focused on providing waste professionals from 27 countries with the principles for integrated solid waste management (ISWM) and proper operation and management of landfills and landfill mining to ensure environmental protection, methane reduction, and protection of public health. Students of the Winter School participated in technical sessions on landfill design and operation and field trips to landfills for hands-on training.

The Winter School students completed an intensive 2-week program that ended with a “Global Waste Management Perspective” panel discussion from the local, national and global perspectives. Kata Tisza (ISWA); Vance Kemler (Solid Waste Operations of the City of Denton); Brenda Haney (City of Irving Landfill, Texas); David Biderman (SWANA); and Tom Frankiewicz (U.S. EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program and Global Methane Initiative) presented in the panel. SWIS Director, Dr. Md. Sahadat Hossain, presented participants with their course completion certificate in the evening gala dinner. The program concluded with a group pledge to make a sustainable world where resource management will become the primary driver of waste management. Topics the Winter School students focused on included:

  • Emphasis on the “Three Rs” – reduce, reuse, and recycle – and other waste management alternatives including training on organic waste management, diversion techniques to avoid methane generation, and capture of methane generated from anaerobic digestion.
  • Sanitary landfills with capture, combustion or utilization of landfill gas (LFG) as a component of an integrated approach to solid waste management.
  • Proper landfill operation and management to facilitate capture and utilization of LFG as a critical component of environmental protection of air and groundwater.

For more information on landfills and ISWM, please visit the GMI MSW page and ISWA.

#GMF2016 Day 2: Methane Policies and Re-charter Ceremony

Hello again from the Global Methane Forum conference site at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.! We had an incredibly successful concluding day of the Global Methane Initiative portion of this week’s proceedings.

The morning session on country-level methane policies featured the approach of five countries toward methane policy, with representatives:

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Breakout of SCLP policy measures and best practices.
  • Canada: Mike Beale, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Stewardship Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • Colombia: Eduardo Sanchez, Climate Change Advisor, Ministry of Mines and Energy;
  • Mexico: Maria Amparo Martínez, Institute of Ecology and Climate Change;
  • Philippines: Emmanuel de Guzman, Secretary of Climate Change, Climate Change Commission; and
  • United States: Rick Duke, Deputy Director for Climate Policy, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change.

The key take-away from the policy session was that policies to mitigate methane are not one-size-fits-all, and depend upon the key methane sources in each country and the various levels of government’s willingness and capacity to address these sources.

Following the policy roundtable, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its latest methane-focused voluntary effort in the oil & gas sector, the Methane Challenge. The Methane Challenge will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within 5 years. Representatives from 41 companies from across the value chain participated in the ceremony with EPA Acting Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air, Janet McCabe.

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U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy delivering a keynote presentation at the Global Methane Forum. 

After the Methane Challenge launch, participants were treated to a keynote by the passionate, feisty EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. Administrator McCarthy spoke about the value of methane mitigation in terms of environmental, health, and economic benefits, and how voluntary partnerships like GMI play an integral role.

 

“So much of our success to date has been possible because of the leadership and cooperation of the international community. When it comes to global challenges like climate change, partnerships and collaborations that can bridge national interests and bring us together are really the core, essential, ingredient for success,” she said.

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Finally – the event we here at GMI had been awaiting – GMI’s Re-charter ceremony that officially extends GMI’s charter by a further 5 years, and formalizes new alliances with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The ceremony featured speeches from GMI, CCAC, and UNECE by Joe Goffman, Associate Administrator and Senior Counsel, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. EPA; Rita Cerutti, Director, Multilateral Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Co-chair, CCAC Working Group; and Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE, respectively.

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Following another afternoon of intense sector-focused technical and policy sessions in the biogas, coal mines, and oil & gas sectors, participants finally got to indulge in some socializing and networking at the official reception hosted by the U.S. State Department. We would like to thank supporters FLSmidth and GHGSat for their assistance in providing libations to all Forum participants at this reception.

Thank you to our 500+ participants of the Global Methane Forum! Presentations from the sessions will be available in a few weeks on our website. Stay posted to our Twitter account for the latest happenings during the rest of the week. Moving on to the CCAC Science & Policy Dialogue today…