Landfills around the world release a lot of planet-warming methane, study shows

LONDON (REUTERS) – Decomposing food waste is releasing thousands of tonnes of planet-warming methane gas at landfills in Buenos Aires, Delhi, Mumbai, and Lahore, new research has found.

With about 570 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas emitted every year from both industrial and natural processes, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been increasing at a record pace, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In some countries, the biggest source is agricultural fields and farm animals – particularly cows but also livestock and chickens.

In the United States, the oil and gas industry is largely responsible.

Yet, there is another major global source – garbage.

With data from a satellite-mounted detector showing high methane levels over cities in India, Pakistan and Argentina, a team of scientists looked more closely to pin down the emissions sources.

High-resolution satellite images snapped in 2020 revealed the methane was coming from upwind landfills in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, the Indian cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, and Pakistan’s second-largest city of Lahore, according to the study published on Wednesday (Aug 10) in the journal Science Advances.

A landfill in Mumbai, for example, was putting out about 9.8 tonnes of methane per hour, or 85,000 tonnes per year, according to the study’s findings.

The Buenos Aires landfill emitted some 250,000 annual tonnes – or half of the city’s total methane emissions.

“These observations can tell us where the large methane emissions are and where mitigation action can be taken,” said co-author Joannes Maasakkers, an environmental scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research. Mitigation steps might include food composting or capturing the methane for biogas.

Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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