|Thanks for the forward and the comment, Eric.|
Here in California it is legal landfill practice to use a manufactured product called Alternative Daily Cover to put on top of garbage for a day, then cover it with more garbage the next day, and still get "landfill diversion" credit for the 12 inch ADC layer even though it is now landfill. According to figures provided by the State Integrated Waste Management Board at its Compost Summit meeting in Sacramento two days ago, as a product ADC currently accounts for 46% of all organics processing in the state. 2.6 million tons of ADC were landfilled in 2006, amounting to 8.5 million cubic yards.
Clean composting and mulching together account for only about 29% of organics currently processed, because another 21% is used for boiler fuel. Overall, ADC is taking market share from the composting and mulching because it is so cheap to produce (no turning, no further screening, no bagging, no marketing, really) and the state "diversion" credit incentive makes it a no-brainer financially for the wasters.
The Background Discussion Paper distributed at the Compost Summit said "(In)...2004,...329 out of approximately 400 jurisdictions used green waste (sic) as ADC." Of these, 25 got between 11% and 25% of their diversion credit from ADC.
From the perspective of Greenhouse Gas, ADC generates abundant methane, and boiler fuel generates quick atmospheric loading of massive quantities of CO2 plus lots of other volatile organic compounds. Both are exactly contrary to best GHG management practices.
This means that carbon sequestration in soils gets only about one in four tons of organic product that this huge state produces. This is an environmental travesty, and if it continues it can only compound the unfolding catastrophe as we continue wreck our atmosphere.
ADC is a byproduct of mechanized Construction and Demolition debris processing. It is anything with a small enough particle size to pass through a grizzly screen on its way up to a picking line where the big stuff is sorted out by workerbees for "recycling." So ADC is plant debris, crushed wood, ceramic material, glass, soils, dusts, powders, liquids, putrescibles, plastic bits, and more.
There is more or less ADC depending on upstream handling. Conservative labor-intensive scavenging such as Urban Ore does and has done for 27 years is almost never part of this destructive disposal picture, but it is a cure for the problem.
The ADC loophole all part of the systematic pollution of recycling that's been accomplished by wasting companies and wasting technologies, pollution that has crept like a foul air onto the field of recycling over the last several years.
About a hundred people including a lot of compost operators showed up for the Compost Summit, and the tide of opinion in the room strongly favored the CIWMB removing the recycling credit from ADC as soon as possible. One person called "ADC diversion credits" consumer fraud, and expressed surprise that it has not been exposed. Some though people would be angry if they found out. One person on the CIWMB said she would be willing to spend their next meeting drafting a revised rule to remove the ADC recycling credit that the board granted the waste industry over ten years ago. We'll see. If you want to weigh in on the issue of fake recycling (which is not limited to ADC as we all know), a letter to the California Integrated Waste Management Board would be a good place to start.
I support Eric's demand that no organics go to landfill, but want people to know that there are other layers to the GHG management puzzle that are urgent as well.
Urban Ore, Inc.
A reuse and recycling company in Berkeley since 1980
On Oct 11, 2007, at 1:49 PM, Eric Lombardi wrote:
This is bad news? but check out this one statement: ?Flannery, named Australian of the Year for 2007? says that higher figure is due to miscalculating the potency of other greenhouse gasses, which are included in the 450 ppm figure and measured in terms equivalent to that of CO2.
That sounds like methane to me? and this issue of ?impact? from GHG gas other than carbon needs to be better understood.
Here is my understanding of what has happened, and if I?m wrong, please someone correct me. The IPCC decided that since ?carbon? hangs out in the atmosphere to do it?s dirty work for 100 years, then the two other major GHG?s (methane and nitrous oxide) would be ?normalized? to have their impacts also spread out over 100 years? even if that isn?t true. And, it?s not true. Methane actually does the bulk it?s dirty work as a GHG within 20 years, not 100. We?ve all heard that methane is 23 times more effective as a GHG than carbon, but that is using the 100-year impact timeline. According to a paper out of Israel done a few years ago, if you really measure the actual impact of methane over it?s 20 year impact period, it is actually 56 times more impactful than carbon!!! The Israeli paper concluded that landfill gas accounted for 25% of that nation?s GHG impact, and that the most powerful and cost-effective step they could take to reduce GHG impacts for the nation would be to immediately stop burying biodegradable trash. Now, compare that with our own EPA WARM model that says landfill gas is only 3% of the problem. No wonder Waste Management Inc. supports the use of WARM as a tool for analyzing ?waste and GHG issues?? I was always suspicious of that endorsement, and now I know why.
Sounds to me like this guy Flannery is discovering what the Israeli?s already knew ? that the IPCC and everybody else has been UNDER COUNTING the impact of methane as a GHG, and thus understating the impact that landfills are having on global warming. Peter Andersonhas been saying this for years ? it is time that we pull this all together and get the facts out ? and then STOP LANDFILLING BIODEGRADABLE MATERIALS.
from the October 11, 2007 edition
A key threshold crossed
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to be released next month will show that the limit on greenhouse-gases scientists hoped to avert has already been surpassed.
In Ray Bradbury's science fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451," that number represented the temperature at which books would burn, a symbol of a disturbing future under a totalitarian government.
For climate scientists, a similar number, 450 parts per million (ppm), holds its own ominous meaning. It represents a dangerous concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; a total that they were not expecting to be passed for at least another decade.
But a new UN-sponsored report, to be released next month, will show that as of 2005 the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had already reached 455 ppm, according to Tim Flannery, a prominent Australian climate scientist who says he's seen the raw data that go into the document.
In an interview on Australian television this week, Dr. Flannery said that an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will show that carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and other greenhouse gasses are at much higher concentrations than previously thought. Reuters quotes him:
"We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade.... We thought we had that much time. But the new data indicates that in about mid-2005 we crossed that threshold.... What the report establishes is that the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is already above the threshold that could potentially cause dangerous climate change."
About 75 percent of the total ppm represents carbon dioxide, associated with burning fossil fuels. The rest is a combination of the other gasses, he said.
On the Sierra Club website, blogger Pat Joseph explains the meaning of 450 ppm:
"450 ppm has long been held up as the threshold we dare not cross if we hope [to] avert the worst consequences of warming. Well, if Flannery is right, (and there's no reason to think otherwise) we crossed that line without even breaking stride."How did it happen? For one thing, countries such as China and India are actually "recarbonizing," Mr. Joseph says, meaning that their economies are becoming more energy-intensive "as they turn increasingly to [greenhouse-gas emitting] coal to feed their growth."
In May, the IPCC estimated current concentration of greenhouse gases at only 425 ppm, said a BBC report at the time. It noted that many scientists equated 450 ppm with a 2 degree C (3.6 degrees F.) rise in temperatures. Allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 C could lead to major impacts on the environment, scientists said. In the article, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, explained the strategy this way:
"If you want to stabilise around 450 ppm, that means in a decade or two you have to start reducing emissions far below the current level.... So in other words, we have a very short window for turning around the trend we have in rising greenhouse gas emissions. We don't have the luxury of time."
But, says Flannery, named Australian of the Year for 2007, that window is closed. According to the Australian Associated Presshe says that higher figure is due to miscalculating the potency of other greenhouse gasses, which are included in the 450 ppm figure and measured in terms equivalent to that of CO2. But he adds:
"[A]lso we have really seen an unexpected acceleration in the rate of accumulation of CO 2 itself, and that's been beyond the limits of projection ... beyond the worst-case scenario. We are already at great risk of dangerous climate change ? that's what the new figures say.... It's not next year, or next decade; it's now."
A major UN climate change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December aims to set a course toward a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The current Kyoto Protocol, signed by the majority of the world's nations but not the United States, expires in 2012. Flannery told Reuters that the 450 ppm figure adds to the urgency and importance of that meeting.
Meanwhile, Erwin Jackson, policy director of the Climate Institute, an Australian environmental group, told the Australian Associated Press that reducing greenhouse gas levels would be the only path to avoiding a catastrophe:
"The longer we stay above the kind of levels we're at at the moment, the more likely it is that we would start to see the loss of the Great Barrier Reef; you would actually start see the collapse of the great ice sheets and places like the Amazon starting to burn down."