HolyCoast: Biodegradable Products Are As Bad as Farting Cows

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Biodegradable Products Are As Bad as Farting Cows

I summarize, but that's basically true:
So-called biodegradable products are likely doing more harm than good in landfills, according to research released today from N.C. State University.

Why? Because as they break down, they are releasing a powerful greenhouse gas.

“Biodegradable materials, such as disposable cups and utensils, are broken down in landfills by microorganisms that then produce methane,” says Dr. Morton Barlaz, co-author of a paper describing the research and professor and head of N.C. State’s Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. “Methane can be a valuable energy source when captured, but is a potent greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere.”

Only about 35 percent of municipal solid waste goes to landfills that capture methane for energy use, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Another 34 percent of landfills capture methane and burn it off-site, while 31 percent allow the gas to escape, the EPA estimates.
One word: Plastics.

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