As awareness regarding the potential threat of climate change has grown in the US, many local governments and businesses are being asked to consider the climate implications of their actions. In addition, many leaders, including solid waste managers, who are not yet pressured from the outside, consider it prudent to account for their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consider it a proactive measure to assess climate risks and opportunities and to show commitment to progress. Sources of GHG emissions in the solid waste management process include: waste transport vehicles, composting facilities, processing equipment, landfills, and waste-to-energy facilities. Over the past 25 years, the levels of GHG emissions have been reduced through technological advancements in waste-to-energy, environmental regulations such as the Clean Air Act, landfill gas capture and control, and the promotion of recycling and reuse. There are many opportunities for solid waste managers to further reduce their GHG emissions levels, including promotion of waste-to-energy facilities as part of a low-carbon solid waste management plan. Waste-to-energy may also, in the future, offer potential revenue from the sale of renewable energy credits and carbon credits in emerging emissions trading programs.

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