Tag: waste

Landfills have a huge greenhouse gas problem. Here’s what we can do about it.

We take out our trash and feel lighter and cleaner. But at the landfill, the food and yard waste that trash contains is decomposing and releasing methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also contributes to smog, worsening health problems like asthma.

Globally, trash released nearly 800 million metric tons (882 million tons) of CO2 equivalent in 2010 — about 11 percent of all methane generated by humans. The United States had the highest total quantity of methane emissions from landfills in 2010: almost 130 million metric tons (143 million tons) of CO2 equivalent. China was a distant second, with 47 million (52 million), then Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and India, according to the Global Methane Initiative, an international partnership of government and private groups working to reduce methane emissions.

France’s Waste-Not Experiment

The U.S. should take note of these new laws banning plasticware and requiring supermarkets to donate food.

France has embarked on two experiments we should take note of. First, the nation just banned all non-biodegradable disposable plastic cups, plates, and utensils. Second, they passed a law requiring supermarkets to donate unspoiled food they don’t want to charities instead of throwing it away.

I used to work in a supermarket, so I’ve seen what gets thrown away. In fact, I’ve thrown good food away myself. Perfectly good loaves of bread, bagels, muffins, brownies, and pastries — I put it all in the trash.