California is 4x Net-Zero Greenhouse Gases in 2018

February 2021 CCC Newsletter

Net-Zero Greenhouse Gases (GHG) for the Waste Sector was defined by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the First Update of the AB 32 Scoping Plan in 2013. To meet Net-Zero GHG, one’s avoided GHG emissions must be greater than, or equal to, one’s operational GHG emissions. By analyzing the operational versus avoided emissions, it is possible to demonstrate that the Waste Sector within California has achieved this Net-Zero GHG goal set for 2035 in the year 2018. Based upon available CalRecycle and CARB data, coupled with best practices in GHG modeling, it is estimated the Waste Sector has avoided 4x more GHGs than have been emitted. The Waste Sector achieved the Net-Zero GHG goal using carbon negative fuel in near-zero NOx engines, collecting recyclables from zero waste programs.
The California Compost Coalition, along with, will be releasing this report to CARB in early March 2021, as they kick off the Third Update of the AB 32 Scoping Plan that will be adopted in late 2022. There will be a new CARB spirit with 4 new Board members needing to address a recent State Audit and legislative oversight by a slew of new bills being proposed this year. This report conservatively determines the direct emissions from their fleets, facilities, and export shipping, while calculating the avoided emissions from all the recycling and composting that has been documented in CalRecycle record. The CalRecycle State of Recycling 2018 Report calculated that 77.6 million tons of solid waste and recyclables were generated in California. A mass balance of the waste and recyclable commodities from the published data shows that all tons are documented, except about 5.4 million tons that can be attributed to source reduction and other recycling which were not modeled. As clearly stated in the First Update of the 2013 Scoping Plan (this will need to be reinforced in the next update) California must develop low-carbon, economically sustainable industries, technologies, and strategies that align with the state’s long-term and integrated energy, waste, and environmental policy objectives. Waste has a critical role to play in enabling a sustainable, low-carbon future, in the context of each sector covered in the Scoping Plan. Waste sector-specific GHG and waste reduction targets and actions should align with the following overarching principles: (1) Take full ownership of waste generated in California; (2) Maximize recycling and diversion from landfills; (3) Build the infrastructure needed to support a sustainable, low-carbon waste management system within California; (4) Improve the sustainability of California’s waste management infrastructure, and; (5) Reduce the volume of waste generated.
The Waste Sector has been doing the heavy lifting for over 30 years by developing the recycling and composting infrastructure, while curtailing diesel use. Over 40% of their fleets are on the natural gas platform, utilizing the fueling facilities at huge infrastructure costs, which is now also dispensing renewable natural gas and cannot be readily abandoned for the unpredictable hopes of electrification. The Waste Sector is Net-Zero GHG now and is poised to embrace the challenges of SB 1383 and reduce short-lived climate pollution in the near-term. The Waste Sector cannot also shoulder the shocking costs, the unreliability and uncertainty of electrification at the same time. Let us continue to be California’s Net-Zero Heroes 4 times over.

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