What do you know about Landfill Gas Emissions? I’m betting not much if you’re not directly working in the industry. As you’ve stared forlornly at the departing garbage truck at 5am after being awoken by its imminent arrival only to recall that you didn’t put the bins out last night, you probably haven’t given too much thought to where it’s going and what happens to the garbage.
Well let me ease your mind and put you off your breakfast. After leaving you in its dust (and your pyjamas), that truck was heading to one of about 450 landfills all around Australia. When it dumps its load of garbage, bacteria are going to start a feast on your leftover spaghetti bolognese and while doing so will emit gas. That gas they emit while eating your garbage is about half methane (CH4) and half carbon dioxide (C02), both of which are greenhouse gasses.
Heard of the carbon tax? Well in basic terms the Clean Energy Regulator, part of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, maintains a database of entities expected to pay a carbon price. Landfills will have to pay a carbon price on new waste deposits from 1 July 2012 to encourage them to capture their methane emissions, which can then be used to produce heat or electricity. If a Landfill produces more than 25,000 tonnes of C02-equivalents a year they must report their emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Scheme by 31 October 2013.
So if you operate a landfill how on earth do you calculate your emissions? Well it’s pretty tricky business and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Determination 2008 provides methods and criteria for calculating greenhouse gas emissions and energy data under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act). Check out some of it here
if you have trouble sleeping.
The government doesn’t expect you to know all that detail however and handily provides a calculator that you can use, which you can download on this page.
It does the job but is pretty basic and doesn’t do things like show you the waste generated by each deposit in isolation of the totals. It also doesn’t give you anyway to visualise your data or change the parameters used in the calculation, which I’d be pretty interested in given the impending election in September.
The breakdown by deposit and visualisation is why Boral reached out to us for a better calculator last year to calculate emissions on the Boral Western Landfill, located west of Melbourne. So we made one for them. You can read about that here
We only recently started to ask ourselves how other landfill operators were handling the same problem and whether they also wanted the greater capability of the Biarri Landfill Gas Emissions Calculator. So we did some research and reached out to some people we thought would know better than us about the industry. We were surprised to hear that the government tool was the only option.
So we looked into their tool further and found that they give users a handy guide, the “Solid Waste Disposal On Land User Guide V2.2”. Just don’t use it for calculating your emissions this year! As they say on page 6 “this estimate is not based on the NGER (Measurement) Determination for 2012/13. For 2012/13 reporting you will need to download an updated version of the Calculator when it is available”. And I’m sure it will be made available at some point but it isn’t available yet!
So we decided to make our tool more broadly available (yes, it is compliant with NGER (Measurement) Amendment Determination 2012/13 for the upcoming reporting period).
So now you know what happens to your rubbish and, if you’re a landfill operator, how to calculate your emissions this year. And by the way, it’s bin night!
Biarri Landfill Gas Emissions Calculator Screen Shots
Non-Legacy Quantity Generated
Annual Non-Legacy Generation
Annual Total Generation
Forecast Landfill Qty (input)