Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA)

Estimating national landfill methane emissions

This paper estimates national methane emissions from solid waste disposal sites in Panama over the time period 1990–2020 using both the 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Waste Model spreadsheet and the default emissions estimate approach presented in the 1996 IPCC Good Practice Guidelines. The IPCC Waste Model has the ability to calculate emissions from a variety of solid waste disposal site types, taking into account country- or region-specific waste composition and climate information, and can be used with a limited amount of data. Countries with detailed data can also run the model with country-specific values. The paper discusses methane emissions from solid waste disposal; explains the differences between the two methodologies in terms of data needs, assumptions, and results; describes solid waste disposal circumstances in Panama; and presents the results of this analysis. It also demonstrates the Waste Model’s ability to incorporate landfill gas recovery data and to make projections. The former default method methane emissions estimates are 25 Gg in 1994, and range from 23.1 Gg in 1990 to a projected 37.5 Gg in 2020.

The Waste Model estimates are 26.7 Gg in 1994, ranging from 24.6 Gg in 1990 to 41.6 Gg in 2020. Emissions estimates for Panama produced by the new model were, on average, 8% higher than estimates produced by the former default methodology. The increased estimate can be attributed to the inclusion of all solid waste disposal in Panama (as opposed to only disposal in managed landfills), but the increase was offset somewhat by the different default factors and regional waste values between the 1996 and 2006 IPCC guidelines, and the use of the first-order decay model with a time delay for waste degradation in the IPCC Waste Model.

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