Burying organic waste in landfill is a big problem and it’s not just because of the resources we lose. When organic waste is dumped in landfill, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane is, however, also a valuable resource. The natural gas piped into our homes is primarily methane. Landfills are lined with a membrane designed to prevent the release of methane, offering an opportunity to capture and put the resource to use. While this is a great use of this gas, there is always going to be some leakage and the organic matter is lost to anaerobic digestion.
Open row composting, or Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting, has also been used for recycling organic waste and generates a useful byproduct through aerobic digestion. This system digests the organic matter and prevents the production of methane. Due to odor challenges and concerns about groundwater and surrounding environment, these facilities have been difficult to permit.
While there is no silver bullet currently for organic waste, there are many organizations, private businesses, and residents taking this topic seriously and identifying creative solutions for diverting organic matter from the landfill. As we work together, we take a collaborative approach to reaching our 2020 goal of diverting 75% of organic matter from the landfill.