Waste Management

The Role of the Waste Sector in Climate Change

The waste sector is uniquely situated to substantially mitigate the second most abundant greenhouse gas, methane. Focusing on waste with improvements in solid waste management can also bring various co-benefits such as an improvement in air quality, a reduction in contamination-related illnesses, economic growth, and a boost to energy resources.

An integrated solid waste management strategy, including targeting waste prevention, recycling, composting, energy recovery, treatment, and disposal, can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, landfill gas, which is composed of about 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, can be captured and used as a source of clean energy and a substitute for fossil fuel. Similar potential exists for waste-to-energy projects in wastewater, livestock manure and biomass from national industries such as wine production or forestry. CCAP’s handout highlights real-world examples of successful waste management projects.

Moreover, as a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, methane (CH4) is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it dissipates more quickly in the atmosphere. Methane not only contributes to warming the atmosphere, it has also been linked to the concentration of surface ozone, which is known to cause air quality and public health issues.

Methane is emitted globally from man-made sources including:

CCAP Activity in the Waste Sector

The Center for Clean Air Policy is working to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA) in the waste sector in Latin America that will be supported by capacity-building activities. As CCAP continues its efforts in waste management projects, it will utilize its existing network of policymakers, government officials and private-sector experts to facilitate the implementation of on-the-ground waste strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and will incorporate these strategies into the MAIN program and the Waste Sector Mitigation Program.

Working with CCAC

CCAP is working with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) like methane, black carbon and other air pollutants. Established in February 2012, the Coalition leverages political will to address SLCPs in an effort to mitigate climate change in the near term, while efforts to reduce GHG emissions continue on the ground and through the UNFCCC. The Municipal Solid Waste Initiative (MSWI), one of CCAC’s key initiatives, works directly with city governments to reduce SLCPs from municipal solid waste. CCAP is playing a strategic role as a member of the initiative’s steering group, and has received support from the Coalition to work directly with four cities in Chile and Colombia to identify and design sustainable waste management policy options that will feed into each country’s waste NAMA.