David Donaldson, Head of the Green Growth Unit at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is one of the authors behind a recently released report outlining solutions to North America's organic waste issue. Recent statistics show that Canada, Mexico and the United States generate nearly 265 million tonnes of organic waste every year, with less than 75 million diverted through composting and anaerobic digestion, and approximately 190 million tonnes ending up in landfills.
The new CEC report presents the findings of a two-year research project: the North American Initiative on Organic Waste Diversion and Processing. According to the report, disposal of solid waste contributes nearly 200 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year in North America‹the majority of which arises from organic material mixed in the solid waste. Expanding efforts to divert and properly manage organic waste could help avoid up to 100 million MTCO2e in GHG emissions annually (equivalent to 21, 413, 276 cars driving for one year or 109, 409, 910 pounds of coal burned).
CEC will also be releasing a report on the state of food loss and waste (FLW) in North America, March 20.
Key findings from Characterization and Management of Organic Waste, produced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) :
• Of the 265 million tonnes generated across the three nations, residents and businesses divert approximately 75 million tonnes through activities such as composting, and otherwise dispose of approximately 190 million tonnes of organic waste in landfills
• Canada and the United States both have an organic diversion rate of 32 percent, while Mexico has a rate of 7 percent
• The disposal of solid waste contributes nearly 200 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year in North America‹the majority of which arises from organic material mixed in the solid waste
• The potential positive economic impacts of organic waste diversion are significant. For example, diverting 50 percent of the 141.5 million tonnes of organic waste would have generated an estimated US$7 billion and over 160,000 jobs (calculation based on factors from Goldman and Ogishi 2001).
• Other significant benefits to organic waste diversion include avoiding groundwater and drinking water contamination; reducing other airborne pollutants that contribute to smog and create human health impacts (e.g., asthma); and the production of biogas, which can be used to produce electricity, heat or renewable natural gas, thereby offsetting use of fossil fuels and providing a local source of renewable energy
Proposed solutions include:
• Consistent outreach to and education of the general public
• Promoting or increasing incentives to spur growth related to expanded infrastructure
• Increasing landfill and waste-to-energy tipping fees for organic waste
• Supporting the growing market of products derived from organic waste across North America
Follow this LINK to the full report .