Landfills are one of the largest drivers of methane pollution in the U.S. and globally, but they don’t have to be. If we were to invest in infrastructure to divert all food and other organic waste from landfills, we could slash landfill methane emissions entirely.
I am one of 35 scientists, including four from Columbia, calling on U.S. climate leaders to push for policies aimed at diverting the nearly 300 tons of organic waste that the United States send to landfills each year. As UN climate talks got underway last week, the United States and European Union are leading a Global Methane Pledge to encourage countries to cut emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030. The U.S. could be well on its way to reaching this 30 percent goal merely by changing how we deal with biodegradable waste.
Nickolas J. Themelis directs graduate research in the area of sustainable waste management.