Composting massively reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfill

By Mike Ritchie, MRA Consulting Group

At a recent meeting with Local Government Mayors and CEO’s, a claim was made that transporting organics by truck to a distant compost facility (in this case 150km away) would emit more greenhouse gases than landfilling it locally.

Thinking that the carbon forcing factor of methane from landfill (25 times CO2) would render that claim incorrect, I thought I should go back and check the maths.

The answer was so startling I wrote this article.

TruckIn short, a truck filled with 25 tonnes of Food and Garden Organics (FOGO) can be driven 13,100km to a composting facility before it emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as that same truckload put in a landfill with 45% gas capture (typical of whole of life gas capture).

Or put another way, you could circumnavigate Australia (14,500km) with FOGO compared to a standard landfill with gas capture.

If the landfill had no gas capture, you could drive that truck 20,900km before the CO2-e emissions from the truck were equal to the landfill’s emissions. To put that in context, you could drive from Sydney to Perth and back 5 times before you generated the same amount of emissions.

How stark is that?

Organics belong in our soils, not in landfill, and FOGO services are the best ways to recover organics from the municipal waste stream. FOGO needs to become the standard waste service for all Australian households.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.


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One thought on “Composting massively reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfill

  1. So is it better for landfills not to capture the gas as you say if there is no gas capture you can drive the truck further. I am understanding this wrong or have you made a mistake. What is the problem with general builders waste plastics, Timbers, etc going to landfill as I don’t think this makes much methane gases and recycling makes quite a lot of co2 from excavater sand screening machines etc running all day. Also what are we going to do with all the holes we mine if we don’t fill them up. By filling them up we can have golf courses, parks, kids bike tracks, open spaces, dog walking etc
    Thanks Dean

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