What is your waste production’s impact on greenhouse gases? (Part 2)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

To recap my last blog on greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and waste:
  1. Items sent to landfill NEVER decompose, except organics;
  2. When organics decompose in a landfill, they produce methane (20X the impact of CO2);
  3. If you choose to compost 1 ton of organics, you will sequester 0.2 tons of CO2;
  4. If you choose to send that ton to a landfill, you would create 0.8 tons of CO2
Now let’s talk about uOttawa’s waste production and recycling rate; what do they mean in terms of GHG’s? Do we recycle and compost enough to cover the GHG’s emitted due to waste disposal and landfilling? Before I go on, I must say that whatever the result, nothing needs to be sent to landfill if you choose the right products – nothing will ever make entombing perfectly usable ressources in a landfill reasonable (even sequestering GHG’s!).

Last year, the University sent 1082 tons of waste to the Trail rd. landfill, and 1105 tons of recyclable material (of which 98 tons were organics) to different recycling and reuse plants, programs, etc. which gives us a 51% waste diversion rate. When we plug all these values into the Environment Canada’s GHG’s Calculator for Waste Management, we get the following result (all shown in tons of CO2 equivalent values):

This means that we produced 191 tons (metric) of CO2 during waste disposal, and we sequestered 2,439 tons (metric) of CO2 through our recycling efforts. THAT IS AWESOME! Thank you for recycling! To conclude on my two blogs, recycling (and composting) is the easiest direct action you can take to impact our environment; why don’t you learn to recycle properly on campus? Click here


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