POLICY PAPER: Waste as a cause of climate change: what to do with it?

Štěpán Vaškevič in his policy paper examines an often neglected activity in climate policies - waste management and its impact on climate change. How is the Czech republic really standing when it comes to this phenomena? And what are the further perspectives?

  •  Climate change is a multidimensional issue in both its origins and its solutions as well. The aim of this paper is to provide an insight into human activity often neglected in climate policies – waste management and its impact on climate change.
  •  The paper will map main streams of greenhouse gas emissions in waste management sector with a focus on landfills, analyze existing approaches for improvement via optics of circular economy and make notes on existing obstacles and opportunities in Czechia. 

Despite the existence of various successful and progressive mixed solid waste treatment practices within Europe, a landfill is the most common way of waste disposal across the globe. The most prominent impact on climate change is the flux of methane (CH4), powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) during the process of anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction (eg. paper, food waste, garden waste and so on) of municipal solid waste (MSW). Release of methane from MSW is considered to be the third most powerful source of this GHG in the atmosphere with its 11 % of total anthropogenic CH4 emissions. 1 Waste on the landfill is mostly isolated from oxygen, which leads to slow digestion with continuous release of methane into the atmosphere, which is 21 (28 as per other sources) times more powerful GHG than carbon dioxide.

One of the rather common solutions for methane emissions is a technology, which captures CH4 with the help of vacuum pumps drilled within landfill and usage of captured gas as an energy source. This technology has a significant impact both on savings of fossil fuels, lowered risks of fires and reduction of GHG. This technology, however, should be considered as an “end-pipe” solution, or as a solution for existing old waste dumpsites, which still continue to emit methane till the present day. Unfortunately, this technology is not very common in Czechia, leading to significant risks of fires on landfill sites.

Download the publication through the PDF on the right of this article.

#Climate #Climate change #Global warming #CO2 #Greenhouse gases #Green #Circular Economy #Emissions

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