If you recall, last month we discussed ZERO Waste. The key points were that every living entity creates bi-products, which can become waste if the byproduct has no value – think of your kitchen trash.
This trash is comprised of food waste, paper, plastic and anything else you did not find value for in your home. Luckily this trash goes to your curb and is neatly taken away where you no longer have to see it. Perfect right? A few years ago I would have said “NO WAY! This trash is going to the landfill where it will sit for decades or centuries. How is that perfect?” Fortunately, today we are learning how to turn that landfilled trash into a huge value – for you and the environment!
Methane. One of the cleanest and most inexpensive sources of energy available today, straight from your neighborhood landfill! That’s right, you send out trash and get back electricity! OK it is a bit more complicated than that but fundamentally that is exactly what is happening at over 550 landfills across the US.
Here are the facts:
As material biodegrades in landfills it produces methane. Methane has over 22 times the greenhouse gas effect of CO2, however when landfill methane is used for energy production, there becomes a carbon positive effect. The NRDC states that the use of landfill gas for energy has the potential to offset up to 12006lbs of CO2 per MWh, as it offsets traditional energy production such as coal and gas.
The greenhouse gas reduction benefits of a typical 4 megawatt LFG project equate to:
• Planting over 60,000 acres of forest per year or removing the annual carbon dioxide emissions from over 45,000 cars.
• This would also offset the use of 1,000 railcars of coal or prevent the use of almost 500,000 barrels of oil.
Producing energy from landfill gas avoids the need to use non-renewable resources such as coal, oil, or natural gas to produce the same amount of energy. LFG electricity’s offsetting of fossil fuel derived energy can avoid gas end-user and power plant emissions of CO2 and pollutants.
Did you know that 14 percent of renewable electricity generation (not including hydroelectric dams) comes from operations that recapture energy from discarded waste.
Companies today have a unique opportunity to utilize packaging that retains the beneficial properties of traditional plastic, such as strength, shelf life, visual aspect and process-ability, while creating a zero waste program and potentially reducing your carbon footprint. ENSO plastics are designed for disposal in today’s biologically active landfills where they will biodegrade and convert to methane for clean and inexpensive energy production. In 2009 there was 30 million tons of plastic packaging discarded into US landfills, converting this plastic to ENSO would result in about 10 million tons of plastic being converted to clean energy and offsetting the dirty energy production of coal and gas. It would also potentially free up over 70 million cubic yards in our landfills.
Did you know?
When converted to methane, 34 ENSO bottles (19.2 gram) can light a 100W light bulb for 1 hour.
Using ENSO materials provide companies a unique opportunity to step into a future of zero waste, where all product packaging is converted to clean energy, and returned to the earth in a beneficial form. In a life cycle analysis this could prove to be a carbon negative option to traditional plastic packaging.
Waste is a byproduct that has no value. Plastic that is recycled or biodegrades in a landfill has a value (economically and environmentally) and is not waste.