Tag Archives: bioreactor landfill

Sustainability with Landfilling

When considering landfills from a sustainability perspective, often the most difficult thing is to step back from the negative connotations of landfills. Too often, sustainability managers get caught in the trend of “zero landfill” because it is great marketing and it sounds like it would be more environmental. We must overcome the negative perception of landfills so we can evaluate them objectively.

 The truth is always in the facts. Landfills are an important part of any sustainability strategy. Most all of the waste worldwide goes into landfills. Landfills can be the most environmentally and economically beneficial disposal options for certain items. Technology has completely changed landfills; they are not the same as they were prior to the 1980’s. And landfills are an important part of many municipal green energy initiatives.

The design and operation of landfills has completely changed over the past few decades. Landfills are now actively managed to avoid leachate absorption into the surrounding soil, to avoid air emissions and they are a valuable and consistent source of renewable energy. Modern landfills are by far the most inexpensive method to dispose of materials and they allow a means to provide economic and environmental value through the conversion of landfill gas to energy.

 There is no doubt that most all plastics are disposed of in landfills. Even after 40 years of efforts to divert plastics from landfills, we still landfill over 90% of plastics. Many companies’ products and packaging will have closer to 100% landfill disposal. History has shown that we will continue to landfill plastics for a very long time and attempts to divert plastics from landfills usually causes more damage to the environment and economy than any benefit it may provide. Because of this, we must understand how to create sustainability with landfilling of plastics.

 Plastics in the landfill should biodegrade during the managed life of the landfill, 2-50 years. When compostable plastics enter a landfill many will biodegrade too rapidly and the methane is released into the atmosphere and most traditional plastics biodegrade over hundreds of years meaning, again, the methane goes into the atmosphere. We must use plastics that biodegrade during the 2-50 year managed time of a landfill so the methane can be managed, collected and converted to clean energy. Once collected, the methane provides energy, fuel, and reduces the methane’s global warming effects.

Ultimately, we cannot disregard landfilling because plastics are, and will continue to be, discarded into landfills. Instead, we must design plastics that provide value in the landfill. In this way, we can create sustainability platforms that are more realistic and beneficial.

For more details, check out the Sustainability Managers Complete Guide to Plastics: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0175AQ24K


Product Stewardship and Manufacturers Responsibility

Reusing sounds like the answer to reducing pollution and the amount of trash we put into our landfills but it isn’t working. Manufacturers have built in product obsolescence for more than fifty years with the idea of the more we use the more jobs we’ll have. Recycling plays an important role in reducing waste; however, here in the U.S. recycling is failing miserably. Consumes are confused and believe that anything they put into a recycle bin should be recycled. It might be a good thought but recyclers are only removing the items that have market value…the rest goes into the landfill. Keep in mind that even if you reuse something or recycle something sooner or later it will end up as trash. Our landfills in this country are mostly the “Dry Tomb” type of landfill. Dry tomb landfills are nothing more than large pits that have been lined with a protective bottom and as each layer of garbage is bulldozed level it is compacted and covered with a thin layer of dirt. Biodegradation does take place with a dry tomb landfill but at a slow pace. The idea behind the dry tomb is to hide garbage from our sight and smell.


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Sustainable Plastics

By Max

There is a lot of concern about the growing plastic pollution problem, and rightly so.  Did you know?

* Plastic bottles take hundred or thousands of years to begin biodegrading
* 150 billion plastic beverage bottles are produced each year
* 70-80% of plastic bottles are not recycled
* 100 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills, roadsides, streams or oceans
* The average American consumes 167 bottles of water a year
* Bottled water is the second most popular beverage in the United States
* A majority of containers today are made from plastic

It seems that a lot of interest is being placed on bottled water, but take a look at the shelves where you shop; almost everything is packaged in plastic.  Bottled water has become an easy target; many of us think that because our tap water is safe, it must be safe everywhere else.  I wish that were true, most places in the world don’t have safe drinking water.  We should be focusing on the pollution caused by all plastics and insist that plastics be designed to be sustainable.  Sustainable plastics regardless of what it is made from, petroleum or plants should be biodegradable and designed to meet“Cradle to Cradle,” design criteria.  A cradle to cradle product is made from something, used, reused, recycled and when its useful life is over, it returns to the earth as a harmless substance.

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By Del Andrus

With the domestic and world markets looking into alternative energy, it is not surprising that the use of biogas created by our landfills are emerging as an easy answer to clean energy (see bioreactor landfill). What is surprising is that this seemingly untapped resource has been available for decades, and is only now being taken serious as a mainstream source for clean energy.

With countries like England adopting a massive effort to capture and utilize methane from waste off gassing from landfills, it is another exciting development towards a green and responsible stewardship of our planet for future generations to come. Here in the US, we are looking to forge ahead in the ambitious challenge to change the way we are consuming our products and resources, and in turn how we dispose of them. There are the “old school” influences that are entrenched in “status quo”, but do not be fooled, change is here, and the scale is tipping towards a healthier way we treat our planet. We are changing mainstream things that could set a new course our children will look back and thank us for. Look at the city of San Jose, CA were this city’s vision has a goal of using 100% of the city’s electrical power from clean renewable sources.

These are exciting times where innovations like our biodegradable bottles are springing up, and alternative sources for clean power are emerging. We are excited about our involvement in this transformational process that is taking place because we can help rid a pollution problem both from a litter perspective, as well as an emission perspective. Our biodegradable plastic bottles will biodegrade to reduce plastic trash in the environment, and in the process create clean energy from the methane off gassing produced by the degrading process in a landfill. We are first and foremost an advocate of recycling; recycling should and must be the goals of everyone within the voice of our message-please choose to recycle! But with the rates of recycling as low as they have historically been in the US, we take solace in that we can still achieve a positive effect by providing clean power through our plastic PET bottle technology.