First-of-its-kind Sustainable Landfill in Texas Becomes a Global Model

The City of Denton Landfill (Texas, USA) reportedly is the first in the world to implement “closed-loop waste management.” This technique combines landfill gas (LFG) capture with landfill mining to sort out and recover reusable and re-sellable plastics and metals, as well the remaining organic material for conversion to biomass energy pellets. Mining reduces the volume of material enough (by an estimated 95%) for the fill space itself to be re-used for new waste placement, thereby extending the life of the landfill essentially indefinitely (i.e., perpetual landfill). Dr. Sahadat Hossain, of the Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS) at the University of Texas Arlington, developed this perpetual landfill model to be cost-efficient and potentially profitable. The roughly 20-year cyclical process significantly reduces the need for long-term environmental monitoring, one of the greatest legacy swis-logocosts of landfill management. It also reduces a municipality’s land acquisition costs for future landfill sites, while providing a revenue stream in the forms of cheap, locally-produced energy and reusable materials.

While the concept is readily applicable to U.S. solid waste management sites, even greater potential may reside in many developing countries, where open-pit landfills and open-air trash burning are common solid waste disposal methods. Many of the developing world’s cities do not have the same level of access to public and private funding for landfill projects as their counterparts in developed nations, and cannot readily afford greener and more sanitary forms of waste management. However, the profitability factor of the closed-loop technique, along with potential public health and environmental benefits, could be attractive to both budget-conscious policymakers and investors, creating potential for deployment worldwide (source: Al Jazeera). Speaking with Methane International, Dr. Hossain says SWIS and the City of Denton have already welcomed representatives from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who plan to implement a closed-loop system for their city.

Another sign of global applicability is the group of international students and researchers eager to come to SWIS each year to learnwinter-school-students about emerging methods like this at a two-week “Winter School,” a hands-on landfill sustainability program hosted jointly with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and the City of Denton. Dr. Hossain and his team will welcome the Winter School’s 2017 class of up-and-coming landfill sustainability specialists to Arlington, Texas, on January 16-27, where GMI’s Tom Frankiewicz will be a featured presenter.

And the timing of the gathering couldn’t be better – it just happens to be January of 2017 that the nearby City of Denton’s new landfill system is expected to become fully operational.

Methane Gains Traction While New Study Provokes Debate

It’s been quite a busy week for methane – in the past few days the U.S. EPA’s new methane regulations were discussed in the U.S. Congress and the Governor of California signed new legislation to dramatically limit greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, in his state.

We’ll have more on the California legislation for you next week! In the meantime, with all that as a back-drop, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just published a new study which argues that fugitive emissions from fossil fuel activities may be driving recent increases in atmospheric methane concentrations. Previous studies, however, have pointed that finger at agriculture and landfills.

For the full scoop, check out this great Scientific American article.

Anaerobic Digester Training Deck

GMI has finalized its interactive Anaerobic Digestion (AD) for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) instructional presentation. The presentation – designed to be reviewed by a group or individually – is a truly comprehensive collection of resources, including:

  • Introduction to AD for MSW
  • Overview of AD processes and technologies
  • Review of the benefits of AD
  • Review of the key areas to consider when developing an AD project
  • Assorted AD case studies and a review of AD worldwide

The presentation can be used sequentially, or by using its internal links to navigate between sections. Click below to start your tour!

slide1

Methane from Space, and Happy Birthday to MI!

Happy 1st Anniversary to the Methane International blog, which premiered on July 20, 2015! We hope you have found this format to be useful in learning about the latest GMI, methane, and climate news. The invitation from our first post still stands – please feel free to submit entries with our MI Article Submission Form!

This week we’d like to feature work from our American partner National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observatory blog. In March, they published a fantastic post chock full of charts and graphs on why methane matters and scientists’ work to quantify the effects of methane emissions. The March post features:

We especially enjoyed the handy charts and graphs, such as this useful graph with projections:

NASA-ch4-graph

(credit: NASA)

In a follow-up post this month, NASA rounded up the results of current methane studies. This post explains the following in plain language:

  • Why the agricultural sector (rice and livestock production) is likely the culprit of recent methane concentration increases;
  • How the U.S. has played an outsized role in global methane emissions increases; and
  • The role of satellites in the future of quantifying methane emissions.

We hope you will continue to return to the Methane International Blog as your one-stop shop on all methane news and global emission reduction activities!

 

University of Cincinnati Geologists Identify Sources of Methane in Ohio, Colorado, and Texas

CINCINNATI, Ohio, United States — Methane comes from various sources, like landfills, bacterial processes in water, cattle and fracking. In testing methane sources at three national sites, University of Cincinnati geologists found no evidence fracking affected methane concentrations in groundwater in Ohio. At sites in Colorado and Texas, methane sources were found to be mixed, divided between fracking, cattle and/or landfills […]

Source: University of Cincinnati Geologists Identify Sources of Methane, Powerful Greenhouse Gas, in Ohio, Colorado and Texas

Win a Scholarship to 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School

iswa-headerAlthough it’s high summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Global Methane Initiative is already glancing ahead to the 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School. The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) will hold the conference on 16-27 January 2017, at the University of Texas at Arlington’s (UTA’s) Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS). GMI has become an annual participant at the conference – last year, GMI’s own Tom Frankiewicz served as a presenter on the “Global Waste Management Perspective” panel discussion.

swis-logoThis year, SWIS is offering a chance to win a full scholarship to the Winter School through a sustainable waste management essay competition. Students and professionals from around the world are invited to write an essay on a specific aspect of solid waste management in their respective countries. The authors of the best essays will be awarded scholarships to attend the Winter School. Scholarships cover the following:

  • Free registration to the 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School at UTA
  • Lodging and transportation during their stay for the Winter School
  • Free air round-trip ticket from country of residence to DFW Airport, Dallas, Texas will be provided to a limited number of applicants

The deadline to apply for a Winter School scholarship is 15 September 2016 (Texas local time). Additional submission guidelines and rules are on ISWA’s website.

For more information about the Winter School itself, you can download the ISWA-SWIS brochure or check out the conference on ISWA’s Calendar of Events.

UTA-logo

June News Round-Up

June was a somewhat quiet month in methane-related news, so let’s start with some shameless promotion of friends:

First, Scientific American profiled how a Chinese company, TOVEN, creatively turned the city of Xiangyang’s sewage sludge problem into an opportunity. (See our re-blog and trip dispatch too).

Second, our friend, and a supporter of the Global Methane Forum in March, GHGSat, launched its satellite technology designed to measure the carbon dioxide and methane emissions leaking from Alberta’s sprawling tar sands operations, and eventually fossil fuel operations anywhere. We look forward to following GHGSat’s results!

Perhaps the biggest news of the month came from our friends Canada and Mexico which held the ‘Three Amigos’ summit along with the United States in Ottawa, Canada. These three GMI Partner Countries committed to an ambitious goal of North America generating at least 50 percent of its energy from “clean” sources by 2025. As part of the new partnership, Mexico also will agree to join Canada and the United States in decreasing methane emissions.

In other news, researchers from Oxford University pointed out the flaws of measuring the effects of methane in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent, and suggested a new way to measure methane that highlights the considerable differences in how each gas contributes to warming.

Finally, a new study names several American oil & gas companies as the largest methane emissions culprits, citing their aggregate emissions to be the equivalent of running seven coal-fired power plants for a year. Relatedly, NASA released images taken from space of the massive Aliso Canyon methane leak.

See you at the end of July!

 

June Methane News Round-Up