Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Advisor

Costello, Thomas

Reader

Haggard, Brian

Second Reader

Carrier, D. Julie

Abstract

It is estimated that 40% of food is wasted in the United States; representing $165 billion in wasted resources. A vast majority of that wasted food is ultimately placed in landfills where it decomposes and releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs). In fact, food waste alone is responsible for 23% of annual methane emissions for the US. This has a huge impact on global climate change due to the potency of methane as a greenhouse gas. Currently only 5% of the food waste produced is recovered across the nation. Source reduction would be the best solution to reducing this food waste, however, large-scale source reduction is not feasible with the current food market in the US. This is why many cities are beginning to adopt municipal composting programs as a way to divert more of their waste from landfills. The goal of this research was to review and show the impacts of how Fayetteville, Arkansas currently handles waste throughout the city, particularly in regards to food waste and other compostable organics. After getting a snapshot of Fayetteville’s current situation, a model created by the EPA was used to assess the carbon footprint of Fayetteville’s current waste management system. A proposed system in which all organic waste is diverted is created and analyzed within the model, in order to compare the impact the city could have on reducing their carbon footprint. The proposed system reduced the carbon footprint of the cities waste management system by over 200%. Based on the proposed system total impact from waste management would go from a net positive impact of 4,796 MTCO2E per year to a net negative impact of 4,989 MTCO2E per year. These results help to prove that moving toward composting all organics would result in decreasing the impact the third largest city in Arkansas has on the environment.

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