Impact of Transportation on Overall Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Food Waste Recovery Systems

571 miles is approximately the additional one way transit (collection and long haul) before waste to energy and composting are of equal value from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective.

Resource Strategies Blog

Q: How many additional miles can a ton of food waste that will ultimately be composted travel before there is no longer a net greenhouse gas emissions reduction compared to the existing MSW disposal option?

A: 571 miles is approximately the additional one way transit (collection and long haul) before waste to energy and composting are of equal value from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective.

Municipalities considering implementing organics recovery programs often ask about the greenhouse gas emissions of composting, waste to energy, and landfill and generally how to think about trade-offs in transportation distances between the options.

To help with understanding the relative magnitude of the emissions, here’s a back of the envelope calculation along with some additional variables to keep in mind should your municipality or business be wrestling with the same questions.

Based on national averages, U.S. EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery have developed…

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