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Seneca Meadows Landfill Gas, USA

Reducing the environmental impact of a landfill site through methane capture, electricity generation and wetland enhancement

Project overview

  • Region: North America

  • Project type: Resource recovery

  • Standards: ACR

This award-winning project has created almost 420 acres of new wetlands, established an environmental education centre and generates electricity from the landfill gas (LFG) to power 18,000 homes. The electricity is generated by capturing methane from LFG emitted by the 178 acre expansion to the Seneca Meadows landfill site - New York’s largest non-hazardous solid waste facility. The project demonstrates that it is possible to make significant reductions in the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of landfill projects, while showcasing how carbon finance can be used to extend environmental stewardship.

Sustainable Development Goals

In addition to delivering approximately 175,000 tonnes of emissions reductions annually to help take urgent action to combat climate change (SDG 13), the project delivers a number of other sustainable development benefits. These include:

  • Life on Land: The Wetlands Reserve side project includes enhancing nearly 160 acres of existing wooded wetlands, and creating almost 420 acres of new wetlands. The Wetland Reserve is home to 220 validated species of birds, including a number of endangered and New York State threatened birds. The creation of new wetlands is a complex exercise requiring a variety of activities such as eliminating non-native and invasive species, reshaping the landscape formerly used for agricultural practices (e.g. digging ponds, creating new drainage channels), and seeding of over 400 acres with native plants and trees. The landfill’s leachate management helps prevent groundwater contamination. Additionally, the project site delivers storm water management activities, such as the creation of storm water retention ponds and surface run-off channels to prevent erosion.

Read More information to find out how the project delivers other sustainable development benefits.

  • Affordable and Clean Energy: The primary activity of the project is in creating an expansion of a landfill gas and collection system that collects LFG and destroys it in engines to produce electricity. Utilising waste to create electricity is an important activity in diversifying energy supplies and increasing the share of sustainable energy resources. Without the project LFG would be released from the landfill into the atmosphere, although some methane is oxidized by soil bacteria. As methane is 25 times more impactful on climate change, when compared to carbon dioxide, the combustion of LFG controlled by the project destroys the methane in the LFG resulting a reduction of net CO2e emissions.

The project has won various awards including the 2012 Gold Excellence Award for Landfill Management by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and Audubon New York’s Donald G. Colvin Conservation Award.

Methane is emitted from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities and landfills account for 18% of US methane emissions and 12% of the world’s methane emissions

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Project Drawdown

Over the course of a century, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide

Project Drawdown

Municipal solid waste landfills accounted for 14% of total human related methane emissions in the United States in 2017 and methane accounted for 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Annually in New York State 6 million tons of waste are sent to landfills with another 2.5 million tons sent to Waste-To-Energy facilities