Does Composting Produce Methane Gas? – Why Composting Greenhouse Gases Help
While composting has become a bigger and bigger trend for many communities, it’s still common for people to ask – does composting product methane? If so, why do people make the effort to compost in the first place?
This article covers the facts about how much methane compost produces, and how composting can help reduce Greenhouse Gases.
How Does Composting Reduce Greenhouse Gases?
In addition to the financial and environmental benefits of composting, the aerobic method of composting helps reduce the total heat carrying capacity of greenhouse gas emissions from organic decomposition. This is not to say that “fewer” Greenhouse gases are emitted, but that the constituents of compost vs. landfill gas off-gassing have a lower Global Warming Potential (GWP).
This may seem like a clever way of positioning composting as superior to using a landfill even though they both produce a similar volume of Greenhouse Gases, but this is not meant to be deceptive. Use the following lemonade analogy to better understand the difference between the Greenhouse Gas mix created from composting vs. that of a landfill.
It’s a hot summer day, and you’re going to make a pitcher of lemonade. Which would taste better:
- A pitcher of lemonade that uses 1/40th lemon juice and 39/40ths water
- A pitcher of lemonade that uses 1/6th lemon juice and 5/6ths water
If you opted for number two, you made a smart choice. Just like all pitchers of lemonade are not created equal, the Greenhouse Gases from a Landfill and those from composting are also not the same.
Does Composting Produce Methane Gas?
Yes, composting does create methane. Any time organic materials (like food scraps) decompose, they can be expected to produce methane and carbon dioxide.
There are several commonly used methods of aerobic composting that keep the production of methane to a minimum while composting. These methods include open pile, static pile, in-vessel, windrow, and vermicomposting.
The more air included in the composting process, the more carbon dioxide that compost emits instead of methane. This is the key difference between aerobic composting vs. anaerobic composting Greenhouse Gases.
Composting Methane Emissions vs. Landfill Methane Emissions
So, what’s the difference in Methane emissions between a landfill vs. compost? The following bullet points highlight the short of it.
- Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of how much heat the emissions of one ton of gas will absorb (in this example, over the next 100 years).
- Methane (CH4) has a GWP 28-36 times larger than carbon dioxide (CO2).
- Landfill gas emissions are made up of about 50% CH4 / 50% CO2.
- Aerobic compost gas emissions are mainly CO2.
Without having to do the precise math, it’s easy to see that composting facilities contribute to global warming far less than landfills.
Fortunately, advances are being made in the way we deal with high-CH4 producing anaerobic decomposition from landfill gas and animal manure. For example, gas collection from manure swamps, wastewater treatment, and landfills can be captured, filtered, and burned to generate electricity.
However, not creating as much CH4 in the first place is the strategy that we believe in at Moonshot.
Moonshot Composting Can Help You Feed the Earth
If you’re interested in composting in Houston, Moonshot can help make the process easy! Our home composting services facilitate Houston compost drop-off and pick-up to suit your preferences. We also offer restaurant composting and office composting if your organization is interested in feeding the earth along with the Moonshot community!
See our service options today, then choose the options that work best for you!