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Waste-to-Energy Biogenic Carbon Dioxide Reductions and USEPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Mandate: What Does the Future Hold?

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark C. Maritato, Anne K. Hewes

ecomaine, Portland, ME

Paper No. NAWTEC20-7009, pp. 71-77; 7 pages
  • 20th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • 20th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • Portland, Maine, USA, April 23–25, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Materials and Energy Recovery Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4483-0
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


On October 30, 2009 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) promulgated the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases (ghg) across virtually every industry sector in the U.S., including Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants, emitting over 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions per year. In conformance with 40CFR part 98, subpart C stationary fuel combustion sources, WTE plants were required to report 2010 CO2 emissions by September 30, 2011, and annually thereafter by March 31st. A key element of this process involves the quarterly collection of flue gas samples for characterization of mean biogenic CO2 content. While this rule is in its infancy, it is clear that the Agency intends to regulate CO2 emissions, especially the anthropogenic fraction, across all industry sectors. Currently, ecomaine’s sample results for its municipal waste combustor (MWC) contain, on average, 60% biogenic carbon with the remaining 40% fraction characterized by anthropogenic carbon. As ecomaine begins to optimize the removal of organic material through stepped up recycling efforts and the phase-in of large-scale composting operations, it is plausible that the biogenic carbon fraction will diminish over time, leaving a growing fraction of the less desirable anthropogenic carbon. Based on USEPA’s 2010 Municipal Solid Waste in the U.S. – 2009 Facts and Figures report (EPA-530R-10-012), the organic fraction of municipal solid waste is approximately 62.5% by weight before recycling. The successful diversion of even 1/2 this material away from ecomaine’s MWC could result in a measurable reduction of biogenic carbon, possibly reversing the biogenic:anthropogenic fraction to 40%:60%. This paper will explore strategies, including Life Cycle Analyses of WTE, recycling, and composting operations that the WTE industry can employ to help frame anthropogenic carbon emissions in a better light and stave off future regulatory sanctions as the climate change debate advances to a new level in the years ahead.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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