Biodegradation in Landfills

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Assessing the Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Biodegradation in Landfills

Assessing the Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Biodegradation in Landfills provides an overview of biodegradation in landfills and the resulting greenhouse gas impacts, a key issue for the packaging industry given increasing marketing claims that biodegradation in landfills is a benefit due to the growing use of methane-rich landfill gas for energy. The 15-page report explores the generation of greenhouse gases in landfills and the natural and engineered strategies used to mitigate their effects, including soil oxidation, flaring, and landfill gas for energy.

The report was intended to present the latest understanding on how materials behave in landfill environments and the mechanisms that influence biodegradation, and to provide an objective comparison of the greenhouse gas benefits of energy recovery relative to the harm of unavoidable landfill emissions. The report concludes that biodegradation in modern landfills is not to be encouraged, as on net the harmful greenhouse gas impacts of landfill emissions are likely to outweigh the benefits of energy recovery.

Released March 2011

landfill