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GHG Emissions from Landfills Decline 16 Percent, EPA Reports

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfills have decreased 16.2 percent since 1990, according to new data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Overall, the waste management services industry generated just 1.8 percent of the total anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the United States, the Washington-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) reported in a news release.

The NSWMA said the EPA greenhouse gas inventory report “demonstrates the significant progress made by the solid waste services industry.” The decrease, the association said, has resulted from a greater use of gas collection and destruction equipment.

Anthropogenic methane emissions from natural gas systems and enteric fermentation have increased since 1990, and now they are more than twice the emissions from landfills, the NSWMA said.

The gases generated from landfills, composting, and incineration totaled about 124 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Municipal solid waste and industrial waste landfills reduced their total anthropogenic methane emissions by more than 27 percent since 1990, to 108 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 148 million tons.

"Our industry expects to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future, as additional investments are made to capture and destroy landfill gas," said Bruce Parker, NSWMA president and CEO. "We're proud of this trend. It is another example of our industry's commitment to caring for our environment."

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