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SWACO works hard to safely dispose of the waste created in Central Ohio, but it also works to harness the landfill to create resources and promote cleaner air for our communities. That’s why SWACO partners with Aria Energy to collect the methane gas created during the decomposition of waste to produce new, renewable energy in the form of natural gas.
Municipal landfills are the country’s third largest human-generated source of methane, a greenhouse gas approximately 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfill gas consists of roughly 55 percent methane and 40 percent carbon dioxide. Historically, this methane has been collected and burned. But while this process destroys the methane, it also emits carbon dioxide and water vapor into the air. SWACO partnered with Aria Energy’s high BTU facility in 2014 to instead collect this gas and turn it into a renewable resource.
To do this, SWACO installed a gas collection and control system consisting of nearly 280 gas extraction wells and miles of underground piping. SWACO uses this system to collect the gas and then sends it to Aria Energy to be treated and injected into the Columbia Gas pipeline to be sold for future use.
The impact of this process is significant. The landfill produces enough gas each day to power about 12 homes for an entire year. It also offsets the use of non-renewable resources, such as coal and oil, but produces the same amount of energy.
The proceeds received from selling the gas benefits both SWACO and Franklin County residents. SWACO expects to earn about $6 million in 2019 from the sale of methane, income that will be reinvested in waste diversion programs and services for the community. The methane collection also helps to support local jobs at Aria Energy’s high BTU facility.
This is just one of many ways in which SWACO is working to be a good neighbor. At the end of each day, we also cover new waste with six inches of soil or alternative materials approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. These alternative materials are Posi-Shell, tarps and auto shredder residue. These products supply a protective layer to control landfill odors and to prevent litter, fire hazards and scavenging by animals. Additionally, SWACO surrounds the perimeter of the landfill with an odor system that releases a lilac-scented fragrance to further neutralize odors for surrounding residents and businesses.
We’re very proud of these efforts, but we’ll continue to look for ways to operate the community’s landfill in the most effective and sustainable manner possible.