Reports, Case Studies & Assessments

The Impact of Municipal Solid Waste Management on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States


Technological advancements, environmental regulations,  and emphasis on resource conservation and recovery have greatly reduced the environmental impacts of municipal 
solid waste (MSW) management, including emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). This study was conducted using a life-cycle methodology to track changes in GHG emissions
during the past 25 years from the management of MSW in the United States.

The results of the study indicate that the MSW management actions taken by U.S. communities have significantly reduced potential GHG emissions despite an almost 2-fold increase in waste generation.  GHG emissions from MSW management were estimated to be 36 million metric tons carbon equivalents (MMTCE) in 1974 and 8 MMTCE in 1997. If MSW were being managed today as it was in 1974, GHG emissions would be ~60 MMTCE.