Recycling and land reuse practices can fight climate
There is much potential to reduce the nation’s greenhouse
gases through recycling, waste reduction, smart growth,
and by reusing formerly contaminated sites including
EPA’s report “Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas
Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices”
finds that 42 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions
are influenced by materials management policies. This
includes the impacts from extracting raw materials, food
processing, and manufacturing, transporting, and disposing
Another 16 to 20 percent of emissions are associated
with land management policies. That includes emissions
from passenger transportation, construction, and from
lost vegetation when greenfields are cleared for development.
In addition, the equivalent of 13 percent of emissions
is absorbed by soil and vegetation and can also be protected
or enhanced through land management policies.
Some of the materials and land management activities
that have the potential to decrease emissions include:
Reducing the use of non-packaging paper products;
Increasing municipal recycling, and recycling of
construction and demolition debris;
Reusing land, including redevelopment of formerly
Reusing formerly contaminated lands for renewable
Encouraging smart growth.
The report suggests that land management and materials
management approaches should be part of the nation’s
toolbox to meet the target of an 83 percent reduction
in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.