In October 2018, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued an alarming report stating that we have just 12 years to bend back the curve on Carbon and drastically reduce the potential impact to millions of people. The topic dominates much of the public policy conversation lately as question arise about how we are going to reduce our dependency on carbon-based fuels and cut our carbon emissions as a society.
In the same manner as when we proactively became leaders in recycling in the 1970’s, well before it was the norm, we have been measuring and managing our carbon footprint at Casella since 2005. Since then, we have cut that footprint by 50 percent and our emissions have remained flat despite the 30 percent growth of our business. And, in January 2012, we were recognized by the EPA, the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and The Climate Registry (TCR) with a Climate Leadership Award for Excellence in GHG Management.
Our success is the result of intentional investments in landfill gas management as well as select fuel and energy efficiency efforts. Here’s what we’ve been doing.
- Landfill Gas Recovery
Since 2005, our focus on landfill gas collection has prevented millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere. Much of this gas was diverted to produce renewable electricity, which gives us a second greenhouse gas benefit over conventionally produced electricity.
This was the most significant company reduction in greenhouse gases over the last twelve years and generates enough power for over 27,000 homes annually.
As we continue to expand these efforts, we are also expecting a new system to come online this year that will upgrade the landfill gas into renewable natural gas suitable for pipeline injection and vehicle fuel, providing yet another avenue for this renewable resource.
- Landfill Heat Recovery
In 2013, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists recognized our engineers for developing “first of its kind” Landfill Based Geothermal Heating System at our NCES site in Bethlehem, NH. This system uses geothermal loops to provide heat to the maintenance shop, saving over 1,000 gallons of heating fuel per year.
More recently, we have added on-site greenhouses that utilize the same heat loop and yield fresh local produce year-round.
- Fleet Efficiency and Alternative Fuels
The next largest area of our carbon footprint is represented by our fleet, which isn’t surprising given that our business is heavily dependent on transporting your waste and recyclables.
With each passing year, as we deliberately replace older-technology vehicles with newer, cleaner vehicles, our fleet is reducing its footprint. We’re also intentionally integrating alternative fuel vehicles such as compressed natural gas (CNG) into our operations, pushing manufacturers at the same time to improve reliability and performance. Today, new diesel and CNG trucks make up more than more than 60 percent of our fleet and since 2010 we have displaced over 2 million gallons of diesel fuel with cleaner burning CNG.
- Facility Energy Efficiency
Energy consumption at our operating facilities and offices account for only 2 percent of our carbon footprint. The real story here, however, is quite significant – as a company we generate three times as much electricity as we consume. This margin has great potential to increase as we integrate new technologies to both cut our usage and increase our generation.
Across our company we’ve completed dozens of lighting retrofits, heating and cooling efficiencies, and energy management systems. We’re not only reducing our carbon footprint; we’re creating safer and more productive work environments as well.
While we often talk about how we provide services to our customers that contribute to sustainability and resource renewal, we’re also committed to – and succeeding at – understanding and improving the impact of our own operations.
What’s on the horizon?
For the better part of five decades we have been on the leading edge of waste management and innovation, strategically cannibalizing our near-term self-interests to develop stronger recycling programs, better resource management, and more sustainable business practices.
We continue to explore new strategic investments and partnerships in an effort to bring value to the communities we serve and align our efforts with others who advocate for the same solutions.
Interested in learning more? Drop us a line!