Industry & Resource Management
After recycling and composting, the region sends more than 2.5 million tons of trash annually to regional landfills. On average, this equals more than 7 pounds per person per day. Of the waste that ends up at the landfill, studies indicate that about half is recyclable (mostly construction debris and paper) or compostable (primarily food scraps).
Waste diversion programs are designed to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, which will in turn reduce the generation of regional GHG emissions due to decomposition of waste. Waste buried in local landfills represents a small fraction of the overall waste associated with the products we use. For example, wastes are generated during resource extraction, product manufacturing and transportation. It has been estimated that more than 70 tons of waste is generated upstream from consumers for every ton of waste that is landfilled locally. Much of this upstream waste, and the associated GHG emissions, is generated outside of the Kansas City metro and was produced in other states or nations.
Our economy is based on the linear model of “extract, consume, and discard.” Discarding waste in landfills means more raw materials must be extracted and processed to create new products. Reducing waste and keeping resources in use for as long as possible through recycling and composting (a circular economy), can reduce the waste and GHG emissions that occur both inside and outside of the Kansas City metro. The first goal of increasing waste diversion is broad and includes the following strategies enumerated in the waste management hierarchy of reduce/reuse, recycle and compost. It also includes separate strategies, such as education, procurement policies and food waste reduction, that encompass all levels of the hierarchy.
The second goal in this sector is to capture the methane that is generated from the decomposition of solid waste sent to landfills for disposal. Capture of landfill gas is accomplished through a series of wells and a blower/flare (or vacuum) system. This system directs the collected gas to a central point where it can be processed and treated depending upon the ultimate use for the gas. From this point, the gas can be flared or beneficially used in an energy project.
Top reduction strategies
- Waste incineration
- Adding nitrogen capture to water treatment plants
- Water conveyance pump efficiency for water treatment system
- Water delivery loss reduction Landfill fugitive emission capture
*NOTE: GHG emission reduction do not reflect any benefits from recycling. However, it is understood that those upstream benefits (benefits from upstream manufacturing, transport, etc.) are significant.