Waste

WASTE

It is estimated that forty percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. If that 40 percent were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. If it were brought down to zero, as much as 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated.

The best way to prevent waste may be to stop surpluses from occurring in the first place, but that begins when you scrape less off your plate or from your refrigerator. We could reduce the deforestation involved in providing acreage for animals to graze and crops to grow to feed those animals. We could reduce the energy needed to heat, cool, water and care for them, not to mention the labor, the transport and the packaging.

Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year.

In addition, as we bring food waste to rot in landfills, it is producing substantial quantities of methane – a gas with 25 fold more potent global warming potential than CO2

This is another area in which we can make an impact. We can plan more carefully before we buy. 

CURRENT NEWS

Landfills releasing methane at higher rates, study finds

By Damita Menezes 03/31/24
Landfills across the United States are a significant source of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, a new study reveals. The findings show significant point source methane emissions were detected at…
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Aerial surveys show US landfills are major source of methane emissions

By Valerie Volcovici 03/29/24
Over half of U.S. landfills observed by aerial surveys are super-emitting sources of methane, according to a new study in the journal Science published on Thursday. The study is the largest assessment to date of…
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Landfills bake the planet even more than we realized

By Sachi Kitajima Mulkey 03/28/24
A landfill is a place of perpetual motion, where mountains of garbage rise in days and crews race to contain the influx of ever more trash. Amid the commotion, an invisible gas often escapes unnoticed,…
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A potent planet-warming gas is seeping out of US landfills at rates higher than previously thought, scientists say

By Rachel Ramirez 03/28/24
Garbage piling up in landfills isn’t just an eyesore, it’s also a climate nightmare, belching out large amounts of planet-warming methane gas. In the United States, the problem could be much worse than previously thought,…
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Quantifying methane emissions from United States landfills

By Daniel H. Cusworth, Riley M. Duren and Others 03/28/24
Methane emissions from solid waste may represent a substantial fraction of the global anthropogenic budget, but few comprehensive studies exist to assess inventory assumptions. We quantified emissions at hundreds of large landfills across 18 states…
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Biden Admin Takes ‘Long Overdue’ Steps to Limit Methane Emissions From Drilling on Public and Tribal Lands

By Cristen Hemingway Jaynes 03/28/24
The United States Department of the Interior has announced a final rule to curb methane emissions from natural gas waste during oil and gas production on the country’s federal and Tribal lands. The updated regulation…
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‘Garbage Lasagna’: Dumps Are a Big Driver of Warming, Study Says

By Hiroko Tabuchi 03/28/24
They’re vast expanses that can be as big as towns: open landfills where household waste ends up, whether it’s vegetable scraps or old appliances. These landfills also belch methane, a powerful, planet-warming gas, on average…
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There’s so much electronic waste in the world it could span the equator – and it’s still growing

By Li Cohen 03/20/24
All those old wires, cords, tablets, phones and other electronics aren't just taking up space in drawers and closets – they're also extensively covering the planet. A United Nations report released Wednesday states the amount…
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Switching From Traditional to Biodegradable Plastics Could Slash CO2 Emissions

By Cristen Hemingway Jaynes 02/24/24
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest global threats to the environment. Not only does it produce an enormous amount of waste, it breaks down to become the ubiquitous microplastics that contaminate drinking water, food…
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USDA Census of Agriculture Shows U.S. Losing Small Farms to Factory Farming, While Gaining in Renewable Energy Use

By Paige Bennett 02/15/24
The latest Census of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) raises concerns over a loss of small farms and a growth in larger farms, while also showing some promise with the growth of…
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A Reality Check About Solar Panel Waste and the Effects on Human Health

By Dan Gearino 10/12/23
Having sat in many community hearings about solar power development, I am used to vivid descriptions of how photovoltaic panels might as well be dripping with harmful substances that will sicken people and livestock.
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Tribes and dairy farmers made a model renewable energy program. It’s about to get even better

By Bellamy Pailthorp 07/19/23
On a dairy farm in Monroe, Washington, a cement pit full of swirling brown liquid flows into an underground tank. State environmental goals, Indigenous-led carbon reduction initiatives and hydrogen energy technology are also swirling around…
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KEY RESOURCES

Importance of Methane

04/09/24
Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas. Methane is also a greenhouse gas (GHG), so its presence in the atmosphere affects the earth’s temperature and climate system. Methane is…

Leading countries based on generation of electronic waste worldwide in 2019

02/06/23
China is the largest producer of electronic waste worldwide, generating more than 10 million metric tons worth in 2019. This was followed by the United States where roughly seven million metric tons was produced.

Biodegradable vs. Compostable: What’s the Difference?

02/09/21
The terms "biodegradable" and "compostable" are everywhere, but they're often used interchangeably, incorrectly, or misleadingly – adding a layer of uncertainty for anyone trying to shop sustainably.

BioCycle the organics recycling authority

03/28/20
Published since 1960, BioCycle is the go-to resource on composting, organics recycling, anaerobic digestion and renewable energy.

Climate change becomes widely recognized corporate factor for waste and recycling

03/28/20
While many of the largest companies have been releasing sustainability reports for years, 2019 marked a potential turning point in the level of detail and acknowledgment for this looming issue.

Why America’s recycling isn’t working and what you can do about it

02/10/20
Poor recycling habits cost US municipalities $3.2 Billion annually. What are the common challenges local governments are facing?

National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling

01/30/20
EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs…

Managing and Transforming Waste Streams – A Tool for Communities

01/30/20
In 2002, San Francisco set a goal of 75% diversion by 2010 and in 2003 Zero Waste by 2020. The city's comprehensive Environment Code, created in 2003, is based on the Precautionary Principle.

Basic Information about Landfill Gas

11/26/19
Landfill gas (LFG) is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. LFG is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and…

In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets

09/21/18
In a cavernous room filled with garbage, a giant mechanical claw reaches down and grabs five tons of trash. As a technician in a control room maneuvers the spiderlike crane, the claw drops its moldering…

Sustainable Piermont

11/26/19
Sustainable Piermont is a community initiative to protect our environment and prepare for the upcoming effects of Climate Change.  Piermont stands out locally and regionally on both fronts and is ready to do more.

C40 Cities

11/26/19
Cities are where the future happens first. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group connects more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing over 650 million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created…

US Climate Alliance

11/26/19
In response to the U.S. federal government’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, Governors Andrew Cuomo, Jay Inslee, and Jerry Brown launched the United States Climate Alliance – a bipartisan coalition…

Resilient Communities For America

11/26/19
Resilient Communities for America (RC4A) champions the leadership of hundreds of local elected officials who are committed to creating more prepared communities that can bounce back from extreme weather, energy, and economic challenges. A strong…

How Cities Can Improve Homes

10/22/19
While reducing energy use in residential buildings plays a key role in meeting these goals, historically, this has been a hard sector to tackle. Residential buildings are decentralized, which makes it difficult to implement programs…

Zero Net Energy Buildings with Zero Net Added Cost

10/22/19
Would you consider making your next home or building project a zero energy project? If the net added cost to you was also zero, would you be more interested? Most people would. It’s possible to…

American Cities Climate Challenge

07/01/19
The American Cities Climate Challenge is an unprecedented opportunity for 25 ambitious cities to significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents. As Climate Challenge winners,…

Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate Change

05/28/19
Co-chaired by Maros Sefcovic and Michael Bloomberg, The Global Covenant of Mayors serves cities and local governments by mobilizing and supporting ambitious, measurable, planned climate and energy action in their communities by working with city/regional…

100% Commitments in Cities, Counties, & States

04/05/19
Across the U.S. over 90 cities, more than ten counties and two states, have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals. Six cities in the U.S.--Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock port, and Kodiak Island--have already…

Stop Waste

08/30/19
StopWaste helps Alameda County’s businesses, residents, and schools waste less, recycle properly, and use water, energy, and other resources efficiently.

Food Recovery Network

08/30/19
Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in America.

Climate Collaborative – Packaging

08/30/19
On average, packaging accounts for about 5% of the energy used in the life cycle of a food product making it a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and for some products, the packaging used…

Food Print – The Problem of Food Waste

08/30/19
Almost half of our food is wasted in the United States. How does this happen? What can we do to solve our enormous food waste problem?

EPA – Food Waste Programs Across the United States

08/30/19
Food loss and waste is a growing problem in our modern society. The amount of food Americans throw away each year is staggering. In 2014 alone, more than 38 million tons of food waste was…

WWF – Take the Food Waste Quiz

08/30/19
Test your knowledge and learn tips.

Food Tank – 59 Organizations Fighting Food Loss and Waste

06/24/19
It’s no secret that food loss and food waste are big problems. At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in markets…

MORE NEWS

Zombie Wells, Part 1: Texas oil wells are leaking toxic waste, and no one wants to pay to clean it

By Amanda Drane   07/17/23  
Mesquite waved in the breeze at Antina Ranch as well control specialist Hawk Dunlap dipped a stick into a hole in the ground and smelled it. “See?” he asked, extending the stick.
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New York City Residents Will Soon Have to Compost Their Food Scraps

By Dana Rubinstein   06/08/23  
On Thursday, the New York City Council approved a bill that will require New Yorkers to separate their food waste from regular trash, much as they already do with recyclable items.
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Chemical Industry Steps Up Lobbying as New York Weighs Major Waste Bill

By Colin Kinniburgh   06/08/23  
It’s been on New York’s agenda for well over a decade. And, once again, it’s coming down to a last-minute battle in the final days of the legislative session.
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Chemical Industry Steps Up Lobbying as New York Weighs Major Waste Bill

By Colin Kinniburgh   06/08/23  
It’s been on New York’s agenda for well over a decade. And, once again, it’s coming down to a last-minute battle in the final days of the legislative session. The proposal is to slash the…
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Landfills leak climate-killing methane. What is Colorado doing about it?

By Michael Booth   06/06/23  
Gas from dumps is more potent than carbon dioxide, a new report shows. Some Colorado landfills convert methane to electricity.
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Landfill of Unused Fast Fashion Clothes Has Grown Large Enough to Be Seen From Space

By Paige Bennett   05/24/23  
A mountain of unused fast fashion clothing items in the Atacama Desert in Chile has grown so large that satellites have captured clear images of it. SkyFi, a satellite imagery app company, asked members of…
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Communities take steps to overcome Long Island’s food scrap dilemma

By J.D. Allen   05/17/23  
The Town of Riverhead partnered with nonprofits Long Island Organics Council and Green Inside and Out to launch the drop-off site in Calverton where organic waste will be converted into compost.
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Urgent Long Island trash study headed up by veteran Stony Brook researcher

By J.D. Allen   05/12/23  
The weight of the 14 million tons of waste that Long Island generates yearly might be said to rest on the shoulders of one Stony Brook University researcher.
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With a deadline looming, Long Island towns evaluate how they collaborate on trash

By J.D. Allen   05/03/23  
Most residents put their garbage out for collection at least once a week on Long Island. As long as it is picked up on time, their relationship with their trash ends there.
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Meet the trash interceptor called 007

By Tiffany Ujiiye   03/24/23  
Los Angeles County's Trash Interceptor 007 is experiencing its first winter storm season and it's on a mission to collect tons of floating trash from Ballona Creek near Playa del Rey.
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There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth

By Michael Birnbaum   03/08/23  
A new study found far more plastic in global oceans than previously believed — and the amount is doubling every six years....
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A Noxious Underground Landfill Fire Has Burned for Weeks in Alabama

By Angely Mercado   01/20/23  
An underground landfill fire has been smoldering since November, creating toxic smoke that has affected nearby residents in a rural Alabama county. Officials have called in the help of the Environmental Protection Agency to find…
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The Growing Environmental Risks of E-Waste

01/16/23  
E-waste, electronic waste, e-scrap and end-of-life electronics are terms often used to describe used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated or given to a recycler. The UN…
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How Central Ohio Got People to Eat Their Leftovers

By Susan Shain   01/02/23  
The average U.S. household wastes nearly a third of the food it buys. This community is nudging its residents to change their habits....
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Disentangling the worldwide web of e-waste and climate change co-benefits

By Narendra Singh and Oladele A. Ogunseitan   12/01/22  
The benefits of consumer electronic products have transformed every societal sector worldwide. However, the adverse impacts of electronic waste (e-waste) disproportionately affect low-income communities and marginalized ecosystems in nations with economies in transition.
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How e-waste is a hidden cause of climate change

By Anam Alam   11/17/22  
As world leaders met to discuss the issue of unmanaged waste at COP27, Nokia phones wanted to shed light on the problem of e-waste and how to tackle it.
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COP27 Side Event: Unmanaged Waste – a hidden cause of climate change

11/11/22  
Unmanaged waste is a hidden cause of climate change. To raise awareness of this threat, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the United…
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Exclusive Satellite Images Show Near Real-Time Methane Emissions

By Aaron Clark   11/06/22  
A GHGSat satellite observed methane emissions near a coal mine Sunday afternoon in New Mexico that the emissions monitoring firm said was coming from a mine vent. The company estimated the release was spewing at…
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Why the Feared Wave of Solar Panel Waste May Be Smaller and Arrive Later Than We Expected

By Dan Gearino   11/03/22  
“Don’t panic,” said Heather Mirletz at the Colorado School of Mines, lead author of a recent paper that challenges several assumptions about what could happen when today’s generation of solar panels near retirement age.
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UCI study finds 53 percent jump in e-waste greenhouse gas emissions between 2014, 2020

10/26/22  
Greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere from electronic devices and their associated electronic waste increased by 53 percent between 2014 and 2020, including 580 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 alone, according to University…
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Can carbon capture make incinerators a net-zero solution? European operators aim to find out.

By Leslie Nemo   07/26/22  
As climate change mitigation goals increase scrutiny of the waste disposal industry, combustion facilities in Europe are testing how carbon capture programs might ease the pressure on their operations.
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Newsom signs nation’s most sweeping law to phase out single-use plastics and packaging waste

By Susanne Rust   06/30/22  
The legislation heads off a November ballot measure that many lawmakers and the plastics industry hoped to avoid, and it puts California at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate polystyrene and other plastics that…
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The growing problem of e-waste should play a bigger role in the climate change debate

By Steve Oliver   06/23/22  
With COP-26 fast approaching, much of the attention around the event has been centred on the key themes of ending coal power, phasing out polluting vehicles, making agriculture more sustainable, tackling deforestation and supporting developing…
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Trash-to-Gas Isn’t a Fairytale Climate Solution

By Lauren Leffer   06/22/22  
It seems like magic: In millions of operations scattered around the globe (some big, some very small), waste is transformed into energy. Landfilled garbage, sewage, and farm effluent are processed into burnable biogas, which can…
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What our garbage can tell us about the climate

By Sandra Goldmark   09/25/21  
Garbage speaks volumes. By systematically and scientifically studying modern waste, we can discover how the climate crisis came to be, and where we need to direct our efforts in order to effectively address it.
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One California City’s Creative Drought Fix

By Soumya Karlamangla   08/26/21  
Take a drive through this picture-perfect wine country town and you’ll start to spot them, unsubtle symbols of our state’s extreme drought.
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The garbage industry has outperformed the market since 2015. Here’s why

By Nathaniel Lee   07/22/21  
America has long remained one of the most wasteful countries in the world, generating 239 million metric tons of garbage every year, about 1,600 to 1,700 pounds per person. While some view it as a threat to…
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Battling America’s ‘dirty secret’

By Sarah Kaplan   06/25/21  
Climate change raises the risk from failing sewage systems. So Catherine Coleman Flowers is working for a new way to deal with waste.
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Methane menace: Aerial survey spots ‘super-emitter’ landfills

By Nichola Groom   06/18/21  
The U.S. waste-management industry has become a darling of environmentally minded investors for its work in recycling trash and harvesting gases from landfills as an alternative fuel.
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EPA Plans to Implement Federal Landfill Standards After Years of Trump Delays

By Amy Lupica   05/19/21  
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan to implement final standards to protect residents from the adverse impacts of municipal landfills. The Trump administration previously tried to delay these protections and waive restrictions on other…
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EPA Unveils Plan to Reduce Dangerous Pollution from Landfills

05/17/21  
The Environmental Protection Agency today announced a plan to implement final standards that will protect millions of Americans from the toxic and climate-damaging pollution emitted by municipal landfills.
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EPA Will Ramp Up Environmental Enforcement, Focus on EJ Communities

05/06/21  
EPA’s acting chief of enforcement sent a memo to staff last week (that The Hill obtained) calling for them to “[s]trengthen enforcement in overburdened communities by resolving environmental noncompliance through remedies with tangible benefits for…
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Senate Restores Obama Era Methane Regulations Using Congressional Review Act

By Amy Lupica   04/29/21  
Using a rare procedure that allows Congress to reverse rules made late in a President’s term, the Senate has approved a bill restoring methane rules that were previously rolled back by President Trump. The old…
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New York City Is Reviving Curbside Composting. Critics Say It’s A Step Back

By Danny Lewis   04/23/21  
To celebrate Earth Day this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new lawsuit against several major oil and gas companies, while his new Department of Education Chancellor, Meisha Ross Porter, showed off the first…
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Meet the Jewish Activist Digging Through the Trash for Climate Justice

By Orge Castellano   04/22/21  
A few years ago, Anna Sacks was an utterly different person. Her existence revolved around the monotonous slender buildings, high-rise cubicles, and exceedingly demanding domains of Manhattan’s corporate world. Soon, the young New Yorker’s workday…
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The Lasso Robot Wants to Make Recycling at Home Easier

By John Biggs   01/12/21  
Recycling is important but it’s also a pain. Separating glass from plastic from paper isn’t a terrible task but what wouldn’t it be nicer if a robot did it instead? That’s why one inventor built…
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7 Ways to Dispose of an Old Christmas Tree

By Katherine Martinko   12/28/20  
If you purchased a real Christmas tree this holiday season, then you'll have to figure out what to do with it eventually. Your town may have curbside pickup, but if not, you'll have to get…
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Is a world without trash possible?

By Robert kunzig   02/18/20  
The vision of a “circular economy”—where we use resources sparingly and recycle endlessly—is inspiring businesses and environmentalists alike.
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Why we dedicated our cover story to ‘the end of trash’

By Susan Goldberg   02/18/20  
We feel bad when we throw out things that shouldn’t have become trash (like uneaten, past-its-prime produce) or expend resources needlessly (like leaving lights on when we’re away). This guilty feeling is deeply ingrained; the…
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Can the Super Bowl go zero waste?

By Sarah Gibbens   01/29/20  
This Sunday, Miami's Hard Rock Stadium will try to eliminate its need for a landfill.
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Turning cow waste into clean power on a national scale

By Eileen Abbott   01/28/20  
A new partnership will convert waste from dairy cows into usable natural gas.
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E.P.A. Is Letting Cities Dump More Raw Sewage Into Rivers for Years to Come

By Christopher Flavelle   01/24/20  
The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their sewer systems, according to interviews with…
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Industry’s 3 largest landfill operators among California’s biggest methane emitters: report

By E.A. Crunden   01/23/20  
NASA data shows Republic Services, Waste Connections and Waste Management among the state's "super-emitters."
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Vermonters Want To Keep Food Waste Out Of Landfills. They Just Don’t Want To Pay For it

By John Dillon   01/22/20  
Many Vermonters support a pending ban on food waste from landfills. But a new University of Vermont study found few people want to pay for curbside pick-up of their food scraps.
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Covanta will set ‘science-based’ emissions reduction target by 2022 as part of climate focus

By E.A. Crunden   12/23/19  
Covanta's new sustainability report argues incineration can play a key role in diverting waste from landfills, a major source of methane, and previews a growing focus on climate concerns.
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Is Tinsel Canceled?

By Penelope Green   12/20/19  
As the world scrambles to combat deforestation, experts warn our efforts could have far fewer benefits than we think.
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Brighton Kaoma: Empowering Communities for Climate Action Since Age 14

By Brighton Mukupa Kaoma   11/20/19  
As a teenage radio journalist in Zambia, Kaoma helped communities voice their environmental concerns. Now he’s a graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy. ...
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Climate change could double greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater lakes

By University of Cambridge   11/18/19  
Every drop of fresh water contains thousands of different organic molecules that have previously gone unnoticed. By measuring the diversity of these molecules and how they interact with the environment around them, research has revealed…
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How indigenous peoples can help the world meet its climate goals

By Julia Rosen   11/05/19  
The first time Mandy Gull visited Canada’s Broadback Forest, she was struck by the displays of delicate lichen. By the dense, ancient trees. By the moss-covered floor, which rose and fell like a rumpled green…
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Cities, states and companies vow to meet U.S. climate goals without Trump. Can they?

By Julia Rosen   11/04/19  
Despite President Trump‘s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the United States hasn’t completely abandoned the landmark international agreement.
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