Getting methane out of landfills

As we have been discussing, landfills are a large contributor to methane pollution in the atmosphere and global warming. When the organic materials inside of a landfill decompose without oxygen present methane is released. This is particularly concerning because methane is reported to be a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide [1]. Landfills constitute much of the methane pollution in the atmosphere, so what can we do to lessen this impact?

Drilling for methane in landfills: 
Methane production in landfills is inevitable due to the oxygen deprived environment, but what happens to that methane depends on us. Drilling for methane in a landfill allows the methane produced to be harvested instead of drifting up to atmosphere. The methane can be used as an energy source for local businesses or returned to the energy grid. Many landfills are already doing this by running small electrical generation plants off of the methane.

Community large scale composting:
Composting the biodegradables before they get to a landfill reduces the amount of general waste in landfills as well as the methane that is produced by them. Large scale composting facilities are able to handle food wastes that can be more difficult for the general public such as meat, bones, dairy products, and pet waste. These facilities are also designed to control anaerobic conditions to eliminate methane production.

Backyard composting: 
Setting up a backyard composting system is inexpensive and can have many benefits to your soil and garden. You can compost vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant cuts, cardboard, egg shells, and paper towels. By composting your own food wastes it diverts waste from the landfill and provides nutrient rich soil for your garden. Personal composters are also designed to manage anaerobic condition to reduce methane emissions.

There are many different ways that cities and people can come together to reduce methane pollution. By doing all three of these things the amount of methane waste coming out of a city would be greatly reduced.