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[greenyes] Paper Recycling and GHG
Another great reference on global climate change gases and solid waste is Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases. A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks, US EPA, 2002, found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/ghg/greengas.pdf.
 
As Stephan notes, newspapers don't degrade much in the anaerobic conditions of a landfill due to the high lignin content and therefore sequester carbon. The same is true for wood. But, as Doug points out, looking at a life cycle, other materials also have a GHG impact, with aluminum being especially significant on a per ton basis.
 
The issue of methane from landfills is a complicated question, as noted in an email exchange several months ago on GreenYes and it is difficult to reach hard and fast conclusions. Recently, for example, the Norwegian government reassessed their estimates and came out with significantly lower estimates based on better data. Just last week, they put on the Internet a report with an appendeix showing the revisions. I haven't finishing reading these materials in detail, but a quick read leads me to believe that they are still too high, since they do not include the inhibiting effects of lignin in paper and wood. The reports are in English, near the bottom of the web page (where it says Les mer:) at http://www.sft.no/nyheter/dbafile12769.html
 
John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI
-----Original Message-----
From: Stephan Pollard [mailto:sp@no.address]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 9:58 AM
To: Doug Koplow
Cc: greenyes@no.address; rworks@no.address; cmccoy@no.address
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Paper Recycling

Hi Doug,

Keeping in mind that there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding GHG emissions from landfills including the difficulty of simulating landfills in the laboratory, as it happens the placement of some products in anaerobic landfills actually serves as a significant carbon sink.  Newspaper is one of those products.  Its long-term carbon storage actually serves to counterbalance methane emissions and represents a net sink!  Methane emissions from office paper, on the other hand, apparently far exceed carbon storage making it a net source of GHG.

The following were referenced:

Barlaz, M. A. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 1998, 12(2), 373-380.
Micales, J. A.; Skog, K. E. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 1997, 39(2-3), 145-158.
Eleazer, W. E.; Odle, W. S.; Wang, Y.; Barlaz, M. A. Environmental Science and Technology 1997, 31(3), 911-917.
Camobreco, V.; Ham, R.; Barlaz, M.; Repa, E.; Felker, M.; Rousseau, C.; Rathle, J. Waste Management & Research 1999, 17(6), 394-408.
Weitz, K.; Barlaz, M.; Ranjithan, R.; Brill, D.; Thorneloe, S.; Ham, R. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 1999, 4(4), 195-201.
Freed, J. R.; Choate, A.; Lee, E. In Combustion Canada: Calgary, Canada, 1999, p 11.

No doubt the whole extraction through manufacturing process has the negative externality of anthropogenically produced GHGs emissions associated with it.

Best Regard,

Stephan Pollard





Doug Koplow wrote:
It may be true that organic fractions are the largest source of fugitive methane emissions from landfills.  However, if you look at the greenhouse gas impacts of the full commodity production cycle -- not just emissions from disposal -- discarding metals and plastics rather than recycling them is also a big deal.  

_______________________________
Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
www.earthtrack.net
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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Stephan Pollard <sp@no.address> 02/11/05 08:24PM >>>
        
Indeed it is laudable.  For those concerned about methane emissions from 
landfills its paper (and foodscrap and fugitive yardwaste) in oxygen 
starved environments that produce it, not aluminum, steel, or plastic.

Stephan


Steve Apotheker wrote:

  
The paper recycling rate calculated by the American Forest & Paper 
Association is slightly different than the recycling rates calculated 
by EPA or by the states and local governments.  AF&PA's rate includes 
pre-consumer paper, while EPA does not.  For example, in 2001 the 
paper recycling rate was 48.3% according to the AF&PA, while the EPA 
published 44.9%.  
 
Also, EPA and AF&PA both depend largely on surveys of manufacturers 
with some estimates of imported scrap paper that arrives along with 
imported products.  State and local governments use waste composition 
studies that perhaps more accurately indicate paper recycling rates at 
least for their jurisdiction.  Thus, differences in the absolute paper 
recycling rates of AF&PA, EPA and various governments can partly be 
explained by methodological differences.
 
However, there is no denying that the increase in AF&PA's paper 
recycling level over the last decade or so has been almost exclusively 
due to increased post-consumer paper recovery so their rate of 
improvement is very real (not due to methodological manipulation) and 
very laudable.

    
Christine McCoy <cmccoy@no.address> 2/11/05 1:18:00 PM >>>
          
To be clear, the Paper Recycling rate is officially 50.3%
 
Christine
    


  

-- 
Stephan Pollard
Environmental Dynamics Doctoral Program
University of Arkansas
Rm 113 Ozark Hall
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Tel: (479) 575-6603
http://www.cast.uark.edu/~sp

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