Methane Emissions from Disposal of Biodegradable Polyester in U.S. Landfills

Solid waste management (SWM) is an exigent and pressing problem for many cities. Globally landfills/open dumpsites are used to dispose of over 80% of solid wastes, currently serving around 3.5-4 billion people. This number is expected to grow with increased urbanization and population growth (ISWA, 2015). Methane generation, recovery, and emissions projections for biodegradable polyester fiber that will be used to create clothing products, which will eventually be disposed of in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills in the U.S. compound the challenge.

The scope of work described in this research project includes providing the methane estimates that discuss the data, assumptions, and calculation methods used to develop the estimates. Methane emissions estimates help assess the potential impacts that producing new consumer products made with biodegradable polyester will have on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As some U.S. states move towards requiring extended producer responsibility (EPR) for the packaging industry to address its waste management impacts, the analysis for the project commends firms for taking steps to pro-actively find a waste management solution for textiles, which may be the next target for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) legislation.

Objective 1 – Develop Estimates of Methane Generation from Disposed of Polyester.

Objective 2 – Prepare Estimates of Methane Recovery Rates and Emissions Reduction from Utilization.

Objective 3 – Estimate Annual Net Methane Emissions for 100 Years.

The results are in the preliminary stage based on the assumptions for the methane generation potential and decay rates for the textiles. Indirect emissions reductions, avoided emissions from replacing the fossil fuel and utilizing the methane to generate
electricity will be analyzed.


The author, Dr. Ketan Shah of SCS Engineers will present his paper and findings to date at the Air and Waste Management Association, 115th ACE-22 conference from June 27-30, in San Francisco, California.