Carbon pollution can also come from solid waste. When organisms die and decompose, they leave some carbon in the soil and release carbon either in the form of carbon dioxide (carbon and oxygen) or methane (carbon and hydrogen). The goal of waste and resource recovery is to eliminate the release of methane, which is a more powerful agent of climate change than carbon dioxide.
A sustainable, circular economy is the foundation of the West Kootenay Region with close to zero waste. Community members conscientiously reduce, reuse, and recycle. Organic components of household and commercial waste are diverted to community-scale composting facilities and in some places well-managed backyard systems, with practically zero methane production.
The plan includes two main approaches to energy and emissions from waste, though they are combined for purposes of data analysis. They are:
Divert organic waste from the landfill by composting it either in backyard composters or shared industrial composting facilities
Capture the methane that escapes from landfills instead of letting it pollute the air
- Choosing things that can be repaired, repurposed or recycled saves money and reduces the waste that goes into our landfills.
- Diverting organic waste to compost facilities avoids methane pollution and creates a useful soil amendment.
- Without proper maintenance, backyard composting can contribute methane gas and wildlife conflicts.
- People living in more remote rural areas may have difficulty accessing composting facilities.
Health: A circular economy can protect the health of communities by reducing pollution in the air, water and soil by keeping toxins and waste out of landfills.
Economic Strength: Finding ways to keep resources in circulation means economic opportunity for local builders, artisans, and craftspeople. Finding ways to meet local people’s needs with locally available resources keeps money in our local economies.
Community Resilience: Sharing goods and resources can support members of marginalized communities, and reduce reliance on imported goods.
Waste reduction, organics diversion, and capturing methane gas from landfill operations can avoid nearly 400,000 tonnes of carbon pollution through 2050, almost as much as from Buildings, and about a third as much as from Transportation.