CM:PCD Credit-Landfill Emissions Minimization

The Big Picture

PCD Credit: Landfill Emissions Minimization

(1-3 Points, Reciprocal)

Credit Summary

The purpose of this credit is to effectively manage and minimize emissions from landfills, including air emissions and leachate in order to prevent or reduce air contamination and surface and groundwater contamination.

Impact Summary

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are the third-largest human-generated source of methane emissions in the U.S.. Methane’s global warming potential (GWP) is 25 times that of CO2 and is a key contributor to global climate change. Reducing emissions at landfills is an effective strategy for mitigating landfill GHG emissions. 

Stormwater runoff at landfills transport heavy metals and other significant pollutants into the soil and water systems in the area in which they are located. This not only is detrimental to the health of the surrounding environment, but can have negative ramifications on human health if the leachate from these landfills infiltrates water supplies or soil used for, or in proximity to human activity. Responsible management of stormwater runoff is critical to mitigating this environmentally unfriendly component of landfill everywhere.  

Submittal Summary

Provide documentation demonstrating that landfill emission permits requirements are being met.

Case Study and Benefits

Intent and Requirements

Intent

To effectively manage and minimize emissions from landfills, including air emissions and leachate in order to prevent or reduce air contamination and surface and groundwater contamination.

Local Government and Industry Requirements

Implement the policies and programs outlined in SMMP Credit 5. Demonstrate that emissions permit requirements are being met.

Air Emissions: (1-2 points)

Tier 1: (1 point)

  • Measure and document greenhouse gas, criteria air pollutants and hazardous air pollutants emissions with the best available technology that captures emissions/leakages throughout the entire system.
  • Landfills with energy recovery systems must document methane leaks and GHG, criteria air pollutants and HAPs emissions as a result of the LFG recovery systems. Documented data must be provided to SWEEP. If document leaks exceed the national average of leaks for flaring of LFGs, the credit will not be given. 
  • Implement a control system designed and operated to:
    • Reduce non-methane organic compounds by 98 percent by weight, or,
    • When an enclosed combustion device is used for control,
      • to either reduce NMOC by 98 percent by weight or
      • to reduce the outlet to less than 20 parts per million by volume, dry basis as hexane at 3 percent oxygen.

The reduction efficiency or parts per million by volume shall be established by an initial performance test to be completed no later than 180 days after the initial startup of the approved control system using the test methods specified in §60.754(d).

Tier 2: (+1 point)

  • Implement Tier 1 requirements

AND

  • Implement a control system that uses no-burn technology OR fuel cell technology

Water Emissions: (1 point)

  • Implement PCD Stormwater Management Credit
  • The landfill has no outstanding violations of existing permitted landfill effluent emission limits including:
    • Discharges from wastewater treatment facilities handling the leachate.
    • Groundwater and surface water pollutant concentration limits.
  • The landfill has an effective leachate management system, which includes:
    • Operational practices that prevent water from penetrating the landfill cap in the first place
    • Methods of measuring leachate volumes, concentration and composition
    • Leachate collection and diversion infrastructure.
    • Effective methods of processing leachate (on-site or off-site)
    • Regular testing of groundwater and surface water for the presence of leachate compounds.
    • Remediation plan in the case of leakage.

Potential Strategies

  • Regularly monitor landfill gas collection, flaring emissions and leachate management systems.
  • Creation of methyl alcohol as an industrial feedstock
  • Creation of dry ice from CO2

Why We Care

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are the third-largest human-generated source of methane emissions in the U.S.. An estimated 99.4 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent were released to the atmosphere in 2019 alone. Methane’s global warming potential (GWP) is 25 times greater than CO2 and has a short (~12-year) atmospheric life. It is a significant contributor to global climate change. Given the amount of methane emitted from MSW landfills and methane’s high GWP, reducing methane and other GHG emissions from landfills is one of the best ways to achieve a near-term beneficial impact in mitigating the global climate crisis. Additionally, several of the technologies and practices aimed at reducing methane emissions also reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors and other local air pollutants. 

Stormwater runoff at landfills transport heavy metals and other significant pollutants into the soil and water systems in the area in which they are located. This not only is detrimental to the health of the surrounding environment, but can have negative ramifications on human health if the leachate from these landfills infiltrates water supplies or soil used for human activity. Responsible management of stormwater runoff is critical to mitigating this environmentally unfriendly component of landfill everywhere.

How to Meet the Requirements

To meet this requirement, Local Governments and Industry Leaders must implement the policies and programs outlined in SMMP Credit 5 and demonstrate that emissions permit requirements are being met. This can be done by providing the proper document indicating that this criteria is being met. 

Required Documentation

Case Studies & In-Depth Information

Referenced Standards

Definitions

Criteria Air Pollutants

EPA Definition: Carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Fuel Cell Technology

CalRecycle Definition: Use of fuel cells to convert methane gas into the hydrogen components for fuel cell operation.

Hazardous Air Pollutants

EPA Definition: hazardous air pollutants, also known as toxic air pollutants or air toxics, are those pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and ecological effects. EPA is required to control 187 hazardous air pollutants

LFG 

EPA Definition: Landfill gas (LFG) is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. LFG is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period, per the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report (AR5).

 NMOC

EPA Definition: “non methane” organic gases. The NMOC originates from organic chemicals present in municipal waste that has been placed in a landfill and from products of refuse decomposition.

No-burn Technology

An alternative to fuel cell technology. A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device that, like batteries, can convert potential chemical energy into electrical energy and generate heat as a by-product. While chemical energy is stored inside batteries, fuel cells can continuously generate electricity as long as they are supplied with fuel (hydrogen) and an oxygen supply.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

EPA Definition: VOCs are common ground-water contaminants that are emitted from gases from certain solids and liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, many of which are human-made chemicals used in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. They are also often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents. Some VOCs have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

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