Environmental Science & Technology | VOL. 42
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Energy, Greenhouse Gas, and Cost Reductions for Municipal Recycling Systems

Publication Date Feb 8, 2008

Abstract

Curbside recycling programs can be more cost-effective than landfilling and lead to environmental benefits from the recovery of materials. Significant reductions in energy and emissions are derived from the decrease of energy-intensive production with virgin materials. In many cities, competing priorities can lead to limited consideration given to system optimal collection and processing strategies that can drive down costs and increase revenue while simultaneously reducing system energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We evaluate three alterations to a hypothetical California city's recycling network to discern the conditions under which the changes.constitute system improvements to cost, energy, and emissions. The system initially operates with a collection zoning scheme that does not mitigate the impact of seasonal variations in consumer tonnage. In addition, two collection organizations operate redundantly, collecting recyclables from different customer types on the same street network. Finally, the system is dual stream, meaning recyclables are separated at the curbside. In some scenarios, this practice can limit the consumer participation rate leading to lower collection quantities. First, we evaluate a "business as usual" (BAU) scenario and find that the system operates at a $1.7 M/yr loss but still avoids a net 18.7 GJ and 1700 kg of greenhouse gas equivalent (GGE) per ton of material recycled. Second, we apply an alternative zoning scheme for collection that creates a uniform daily pickup demand thro...

Concepts

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Curbside Recycling Programs Energy Reductions Reductions In Energy Use Ton Of Material Dual Stream Recovery Of Materials Greenhouse Gas City Network Customer Types

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