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Waste generation is expected to increase in most countries for many decades with landfill disposal still the dominant solid waste management method(1-3). Yet, operational characteristics of landfills are often poorly understood with comparative statistics substantially lacking. Here, we call for a more formal waste informatics to organize and standardize waste management knowledge at multiple spatial scales through analysis of recently reported data from 1232 U.S. landfills and other high resolution data sets. We create the first known estimate of available U.S. municipal waste stocks (8.5 billion tonnes) and go on to resolve these stocks at the county level, reflecting prospective urban mining opportunities. Our analysis of disposal rates and landfill capacities reveals that more than half of U.S. states have more than 25 years of life remaining. We also estimate the gross energy potential of landfill gas in the U.S. (338 billion MJ/yr) by examining 922 operational methane collection systems and demonstrate that the greatest energy recovery opportunities lie at landfills with existing collection systems and energy conversion infrastructure. Finally, we found that the number of landfills reaching the federally defined 30-year postclosure care period will more than triple in the coming two decades, with 264 sites expected by the year 2044, highlighting the need to develop and standardize metrics carefully to define and standardize when it is appropriate to end or scale back long-term landfill monitoring.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.est.6b02848
View details for Web of Science ID 000385907200013
View details for PubMedID 27651028