Landfill gas is the natural by-product of the decomposition of solid waste in landfills and is comprised primarily of carbon dioxide and methane. By preventing emissions of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) through the development of landfill gas energy projects, the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) helps businesses, states, energy providers, and communities protect the environment and build a sustainable future.
Municipal solid waste landfills are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for about 25 percent of these emissions in 2004. At the same time, methane emissions from landfills represent a lost opportunity to capture and use a significant energy resource.
Landfill gas (LFG) is created as solid waste decomposes in a landfill. This gas consists of about 50 percent methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas, about 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2), and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds. Methane is a greenhouse gas over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Instead of allowing LFG to escape into the air, it can be captured, converted, and used as an energy source. Using LFG helps to reduce odors and other hazards associated with LFG emissions, and it helps prevent methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local smog and global climate change.