Mit ClimateColab Proposals Portlet Mit ClimateColab Proposals Portlet


Lessen landfill emissions: 1. Lessen anaerobic condition 2. Give Federal regulations against tight "best-by dates"



As we take our first steps into attempting to rectify the problems of agriculture, we will start small with an easy problem to remedy. Currently the world is rushing to acquire space for landfills and food dumps as waste increase every year. As waste aggregates, they decompose in anaerobic conditions. This means that methane, a GHG roughly 23 times more potent than CO2, is released. Currently, the fix for this is to vent, and burn off the methane, turning it into CO2. But, this is a very costly fix, as implementation, and maintenance take up much of the landfill/food dump's funds. In addition, its cost discourages smaller countries to implement the idea. Instead of venting the methane after it is produced, we will take action before it is created. The fix is to implement soft air tubes to vent air within the aggregated wastes, and provide an aerobic condition, as well as a return vent to selectively filter CO2 or any other Green House Gases that may produced by decomposition. This can effectively eliminate large sources of methane, as well as provide jobs with the fund not directed on the bulky fix now implemented.

To lessen the rate in which wasted foods are introduced to landfills and food dumps, a regulation for 'best by' should be introduced, as most countries have little to no regulations on 'best by' dates (except baby foods). An estimate by the National Resource Defense Council suggests that 91% of the United States throw away food in accordance to 'best by' dates. In a global scale, the needless food wastage by faulty expiration dates created entirely by the companies without no governmental regulations is speechless. Though countries, such as the United States are attempting to put regulation on the 'sell by'/'best by' dates, the bills they passed, or are attempting to pass, still does not address the problem which come with the actual dates.

What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?

Though GHG emissions from Transport and Heat/Electricity outnumber that from the Agricultural sector, the reason for the focus on Agriculture is because the scientific community has made significant strides to combat the other 2 sector, whether it be modes of transportation switching to electricity or hydrogen fuel, or advancements in technology harnessing energy from the Earth or Sun. Such advancements aid in reducing GHG emissions in said sectors every year, yet, in the Agricultural sector, we hear nothing. The choice of Agriculture is strengthened with the realization that with the exception of 12 proposal (See Reference for list), all other ideas of combating GHG emissions are financially infeasible or just already exist, and most of these proposals tackle the emissions from the Transport or Heat/Electricity sector. This goes to show that because of the unprecedented rise of emissions from the sectors, most ideas to be developed in combating the said sectors are already developed. Now it is just a matter of time for the emissions rate to drop in the sector, yet with the disinterest in the sector of Agriculture, emissions by Agriculture will only rise before the people realize there exists another sector in need to development.

Admittedly, this proposal would not make much of an impact as other proposals, we continue nonetheless, as a big part of this challenge was to develop ideas which challenge the existing paradigm, yet most of the proposals introduce pre-existing ideas with no additions of their own.

But, this proposal is not for naught, as an Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions show that landfills account for 18.2 percent of the total US methane emissions. The number is swelled with the realization of the discovery that the US dumped almost twice as much into landfills than the Environmental Protection Agency, leading to near double the methane emissions than previously thought. Keep in mind that this number is excluding food dumps, and is date from 4 years ago. As the worlds population grows exponentially, as does waste. With countries like Britain scramble with waste problems such as running out of landfill space in 8 years, to the estimation that landfill space will triple by 2100, it is no surprise methane emissions will rise at unprecedented rates with the help of landfills and food dumps. Though there are no data outlining the global emissions of methane by landfills or food dumps, it is safe to assume that with unprecedented rates of wastage, emissions from landfills and food dumps comprise a staggering amount. As such, this ventilation system, as well as advocacy of the best method to decelerate the landfill space growth, will undoubtedly be one of the easiest and simplest methods to combating GHG emissions from the Agricultural sector. And its usefulness will only grow as the wastage rate rises exponentially.

What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?

Lessen landfill emissions:

To achieve a global outreach, most likely we must meet a statewide, or perhaps even a nationwide outreach beforehand. For this, we require fiscal aid to jump start production of the tubing. During production, the enterprise in charge of the vent system should strike deals with local landfills, or nearby landfills with notable emissions rate, in order to collect data right after its production, expediting a state/nation wide outreach. After sufficient data is collected, the enterprise would contact local or state government in hopes of a obtaining a contract. Thusly would continue its publicity fiscal backing until it obtains a global outreach. If a contract is not obtainable, then the enterprise would have to appeal to more backers in order to support their production as well as contracting with either private or governmental (municipal) landfills/food dumps agreeing to their aid. Should the enterprise be able to sustain itself for long enough to gain state/nation wide contract, then the enterprise would continue their growth in order to enable itself a global outreach.

In a sense of economics, countries with suitable economy and most likely a need to decelerate methane emissions from landfills, would most likely jump on the opportunity to implement a way to cease emissions from landfills, or swap ventilation systems to one that requires less maintenance costs. Though, should the economy be subpar, the government may be dissuaded from a contract. In such case, then the enterprise will just focus on areas of interest until distribution of the system at agreeable costs as well as monetary aid for maintenance can be provided.

With the case of the tubing system in economic favor of those who purchase it, there will most likely be no political aversion towards the system. Neither should there be any cultural deterrence.

Sell-by dates:

As the population grows, so to grows wastage. The governments of the world are already taking action, as the wastage keep adding up. There already exists panicked talks of countries running out of space for landfills, as well as heated discussions on the topic of needlessly wasted food based solely on the reason of the its 'pass-by' or 'sell-by' date. But, it seems the governments, for whatever reason, are reluctant to establish a standard requirement (other than baby formulas). Edicts on, or perhaps just the advocacy of the indiscretion of sell-by/best-by dates would significantly reduce wastage, slowing down landfill space expansion, and thusly slow the rise of their emissions.

Economically, any regulations would most probably diminish the revenue of food companies in a diminutive amount, as well as the companies that may produce the plastics which the food companies use as packaging. But, as stated, the change in revenue would only be diminutive for the food companies, and almost none for the plastic industries. To simplify, any economic impediment that come with such regulations is most likely to be little.

In addition, any political problems that may arise would certainly be resolved sooner or later due to the rapid rise of landfill space. But, evidently, political powers have a bad habit of willfully ignoring a problem, however serious. As such, any advocacy or rise of public interest of the topic that may influence the politicians, would not be completely unfounded. 

Who will take these actions?

As a fix for a global problem, the proposals would most likely be focused nationality, for practicality of implementation, and to collect date for potential backers. As briefly explained in above topics, countries are currently using a system too cost ineffective, as it is needlessly bulky and costly. Replacing it with this proposal can cut maintenance costs, which instead can create more staffing positions for oversight of the landfills. The cost disassembly of the previously installed system may deter countries or private landfill companies, but we may remedy this by providing modifications to the proposal by directly modify the pre-existing ventilation systems, or selling the parts of the system to help fund the disassembly. In the long run however, its appeal will grow more apparent, as it provides more jobs, as well expedite decomposition through the moisture in the air, helping the landfills to grow ever more slowly. The growth of the landfills is additionally decelerated through the 'sell-by-date' regulations, as the rate of wastage would grow more slowly. 

Lessen Anaerobic conditions:

To implement this proposal, there must exist financial backers for the a potential enterprise(ies) that produce the tubes. The backers would most likely include banks, non-profit organizations, as well as donations from individual persons. With financial backers, the next step for implementation would be the government or private companies owning landfills in order to implement the tubing. With access, the enterprises will now need partnerships with construction contractors for implementation as well as potential disassembly of any pre-existing systems.

Sell-By Dates:

As a federal regulation, the government wishing to decrease landfill emissions would have to participate in passing a bill to issuing a regulation of how tight 'sell-by' or 'best-by' dates may be. 

Target geography

There exists no country without landfill. Though the goal is to reach all countries throughout the world, the first few years of implementation would be focused to heavily populated areas, such as China, India, and the US. Instead of attempting to reach all countries at once, the proposal would be centralized around states or provinces on highly populated areas, focusing on effectively disrupting the methane emissions stemming from landfills in each state/province, showing its effectives, ergo gaining more interest from countries and independent companies. Smaller countries with negligible landfill/food dump methane emissions would be negated until the proposals success and ceasing a certain amount of emissions in counties with higher populations.

What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?

First off, for the ventilation system to be successful, an enterprise of sorts would have to spearhead operations. This would be a pro-profit organization in order for there to be full-time staffs to build strong media relations as well as begin, or maintain the goodwill of (prospective) backers. The media relations would go for both the vent system, as well as the advocacy for the regulation. 

At first, the funding would most likely come from individual donations, charities, and private investors, though the focus would be more on private donations, as charities and donations would most certainly not be able to support necessary parts of the organization. As the organization grows, its fiscal source would shift from investors into banks, and governmental/private contracts.

For the ventilation system, because it is not high-tech, require expensive materials, or complex in it engineering, it is safe to assume that research and development will not exceed ~$2 to commence the local trial test. The main reason for such a cost is because of the assumption that the R&D will be carried out with full-time employees, but, if the organization were to undertake the R&D with part time staff members, the cost could go down by around 3/4th of a million to a full million. In addition, for R&D throughout the local trail test and into official production, an additional $5~6 million may be in order. Once again, should the employees actually be part-time staff, the R&D cost would be significantly lower, though, because of its delicacy and time, there would need to be full time employees.


At its infancy, and as a pro profit organization, any extra profit made by the organization would go directly back to research and development. At its primitive stage, the vent system would be nothing but 2 tubing's laced with pressure sensors, one pressure to feed air, and one to selectively filter carbon dioxide released from the decomposition. There lies a multitude of things in the system to be upgraded throughout its development phase and even after its release. For starters, the filter unit for the Carbon Dioxide can be always bettered, as even NASA is seeking a better and more effective way. Also perhaps, should the tubing be of appropriate size, time to time it could be shut down for upgrades via robots from inside the tubing. Also, as an experimental design, rods attached to powerful motors could be fixed onto certain points in order to shift the debris incase of a buildup. 

Once a basic design set is chosen, it can be implemented on a local scale as a trial run. If the trials on the local scale is successful, then the system would have a final upgrade before official production of the system can began. Within two years, the vent system should have at least nation-wide reach.

After 2 years, the system should be distributed to every landfill and food dump possible in the US. Instead of attempting to reach a global presence, the system would would be focused on being distributed as thorough as it could be throughout the country for at least another year, as to more accurately obtain quantitative data on the level of effectiveness, as spreading the system all over the world may be difficult accurately record the data.

After 4 years, system would then be moved to reach a global presence, starting with the countries with the highest demand for such product.

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Solution Summary
Waste Reduction (Landfills and Food Dumps)
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Challenge: Fuel: Carbon Contributions
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