Waste Management

Waste management is a very important part of the puzzle. Also because fixing the systemic errors here is very doable in the short term. This cuts down emissions quickly while giving us some more time to solve the more difficult challenges.

As a first step I have generated a list of the most relevant go-to options we have. For now I will strictly focus on The Netherlands. As a general guidance I will use the book 'Drawdown - The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to roll back global warming' by Paul Hawken.

 

Together with experts in the field I am going to challenge this list. It is therefore an ongoing framework. You will find all the updates below, specified for each specific solution we can opt for.

01. Landfill Methane

Drawdown: 'Over the course of a century, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Landfills ('Stortgas') are a top source of methane emissions, releasing 12 percent of the world’s total. Landfill methane can be tapped, captured, and used as a fairly clean energy source for generating electricity or heat, rather than leaking into the air or being dispersed as waste. The climate benefit is twofold: prevent landfill emissions and displace coal, oil, or natural gas that might otherwise be used.

Most landfill content is organic matter: food scraps, yard trimmings, junk wood, wastepaper. Their decomposition produces biogas, a roughly equal blend of carbon dioxide and methane accompanied by a smattering of other gases. Ideally, those wastes would be recycled, composted, or digested. But as long as landfills are piling up, we must manage the methane coming out of them. The technology to manage biogas is relatively simple. Dispersed, perforated tubes are sent down into a landfill’s depths to collect gas, which is piped to a central collection area where it can be vented or flared. Better still, it can be compressed and purified for use as fuel in generators, garbage trucks, or mixed into natural gas supply.'

02. Methane Digesters

Drawdown: 'Agricultural, industrial, and human digestion processes create an ongoing (and growing) stream of organic refuse. Without thoughtful management, organic wastes can emit fugitive methane gases as they decompose. Methane creates a warming effect 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide over one hundred years.

One option is to control decomposition of organic waste in sealed tanks called anaerobic digesters. They harness the power of microbes to transform scraps and sludge and produce two main products: biogas, an energy source, and solids called digestate, a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The digestion process unfolds continuously, so long as feedstock supplies are sustained and the microorganisms remain happy.

03. Waste-to-Energy

Drawdown: 'Waste-to-energy is a transitional strategy for a world that wastes too much and needs to reduce its emissions.

Incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis are means of releasing the energy contained in trash. Some of the heavy metals and toxic compounds latent within it are emitted into the air, some are scrubbed out, and some remain in residual ash. With these outcomes, why bother at all? Waste-to-energy plants create energy that might otherwise be sourced from coal- or gas-fired power plants. Their impact on greenhouse gases is positive when compared to landfills that produce methane emissions as organic wastes decompose.'