33%

Reduction

in greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 compared to 2010

1053114

Tons of Solid Waste

were reduced, recycled, and reused by Casella in 2019

733560

Metric Million BTU

The amount of of renewable energy that Casella's facilities generated from landfill gas, solar, and geothermal energy in 2019

View Our Analysis

The Path to Drawdown: Landfill Gas

While carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that’s often talked about, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide over the course of a century. And the biggest source of methane are landfills, accounting for 12% of the world’s total methane emissions.

Methane is produced by the organic matter in landfills like food scraps, yard trimmings, junk wood, and wastepaper. Their decomposition produces biogas, a roughly equal mix of carbon dioxide, methane, and small amounts of other gases.

As diets change, waste is reduced, and recycling and composting grow, we’re hopeful that landfill waste as a whole will decline. But for now, as the modern way of life continues and organic matter in landfills continues to decompose, landfills and landfill methane emissions keep growing.

The way to manage this is landfill methane capture - the process of capturing methane generated from anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste in landfills and incinerating the captured biogas to generate electricity. This solution has double benefits: it captures methane from landfills, and it replaces conventional electricity-generating technologies like coal, oil, and natural gas power plants.

Currently, enough methane is captured to generate 33.1 TWh of electricity, or 0.13% of total electricity generated worldwide. In the best-case scenario for the year 2050, landfills wouldn’t exist, and integration and waste feedstock availability would mean a net greenhouse gas sequestration, rather than emission. In a less ideal scenario, 70% of the world’s landfills will have adopted methane capture, and they help reduce 2.2 gigatons of CO2e between 2020 and 2050

What We Want to See Improve

Comply With Environmental Regulations

Casella had 15 environmental compliance sanctions (p. 42), including notices of violation, enforcement orders, and notices of non-compliance/deficiencies. These violations (p. 90-95) range from the contamination of drinking water sources or soil, off-site contamination caused by pollutants or hazardous substances. To stop incurring costs from these violations but more importantly to protect their reputation and moral standing, we urge Casella to thoroughly adhere to environmental rules and regulations.

Scope 3 emissions

We applaud Casella for their comprehensive Sustainability Report, the fact that they track their scope 1 and 2 emissions, and sustained ambition to reduce these emissions. But we would like to call on Casella to go even a step further by reporting their scope 3 emissions so that investors can evaluate the carbon footprint of Casella’s entire supply chain.

Accelerate Renewable Energy Adoption

Part of Casella’s commitment to continue reducing their GHG emissions is to slowly switch to low- or no-emissions energy for their waste collection. But this process is going too slowly. As of 2020 (p. 30), 4% of Casella’s vehicle fleet runs on compressed natural gas (lower carbon footprint than standard diesel trucks) and they intend to pilot one or more electric refuse trucks in 2021. We urge Casella to accelerate their transition to zero-electricity energy sources for their fleet, especially given that they flare 50% of their captured methane, which essentially wastes the potential energy.

Related Methane Digester Stocks in the Climate Index

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Allocated Company Description

4.27%

Waste Management, Inc. (WM)

Waste Management collects waste and recyclable materials across North America and converts landfill gas to energy - a solution to methane emissions

2.26%

Waste Connections (WCN)

WCN collects waste and captures methane from a majority of their landfills. It’s a key alternative to methane emissions

0.28%

Casella Waste Systems (CWST)

Casella’s solid waste service converts methane from landfills into energy. It’s a much lower-emission alternative than releasing methane into the air

0.05%

Village Farms International, Inc. (VFF)

VFF captures methane from landfills, converts it into electricity, and sells it to a utility company. Methane capture is a key solution to reduce emissions

0.02%

Renovare Environmental, Inc. (RENO)

Renovare Environmental enables organizations to divert organic waste from landfill and instead turn it into fertilizer and fuel. They help reduce methane emissions

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