What are the 'real' numbers behind landfilled waste tonnage and landfill gas emissions?

By Arlene Karidis, Waste Dive. 

States across the country are scrambling to reach lofty waste diversion rates in response to an EPA call to action to do so. They are setting specific diversion-from-landfill targets and developing calculated waste management practices to reach their end goals. But there's one big problem: many may not know where they’re starting from.

Numbers identifying landfilled waste vary radically depending on where those stats come from. But no matter whose numbers you look at, a common industry consensus is that the EPA’s figures are off—by a good bit. Debra Kantner, an environmental engineer at the Environmental Research and Education Fund (EREF), said, "We see real-life scenarios where states are using the underestimated EPA figures to inform their waste management decisions."

A Columbia University study published in BioCycle reported 269.8 tons of MSW were landfilled in 2011, while EPA estimates were 132.4 tons—a gaping 103% difference.