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Naucalpan, a suburb of Mexico City with nearly one million residents, faces several waste management challenges. Because the municipality does not have its own waste disposal site, it must transport large quantities of waste to other municipalities. This consumes a significant amount of fuel and contributes black carbon and carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, Naucalpan does not have a systematic means of separating and treating organic waste, which accounts for a substantial fraction of the overall waste stream. This organic content, which could be recovered and used to the municipality’s benefit, is included in the waste that is disposed in far-away landfills, where it decomposes and produces methane emissions.
Naucalpan joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Municipal Solid Waste Initiative (Waste Initiative) in 2016 to obtain assistance in improving its waste management practices and reducing emissions of methane and black carbon. Among other things, the Waste Initiative is assisting the municipality in planning a biogas project that will treat organic waste in an anaerobic digester. The biogas recovered from the digester will be used to generate electricity.
Before undertaking this venture, however, the municipality needed to obtain quality information about its waste stream. Understanding the quantity and types of organic waste that might be used as a feedstock in the anaerobic digester is a critical first step in understanding the potential viability of such a system.
In March 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – as a lead partner in the Waste Initiative – conducted a waste characterization study at the municipality’s transfer station. The study indicated that approximately 69% of the waste handled at the transfer station could be recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill, and that more than half of the waste could be used as feedstock in composting or anaerobic digestion projects. The municipality is using the results of the study to inform decision making about the project design and procurement options.
The support we have received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on behalf of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), has been extremely valuable to develop a project that is very innovative in Mexico. The project includes the construction and operation of a separation plant and an anaerobic digester that will improve municipal solid waste management, generate electricity, and reduce methane emissions. The CCAC’s initial support included the preparation of a pre-feasibility study, based on which we committed to the development of the project. Additional support from the CCAC has included the preparation of a waste characterization study and an assessment of the methane emission reductions that would be achieved by the project.Sergio Rodríguez-Muñoz
More information on the waste characterization study and Naucalpan’s involvement in the CCAC Waste Initiative is available on the initiative’s Knowledge Platform.
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