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.

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.

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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

 

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.