By Rachel Wallace, Contributor | Posted: March 12, 2021 | Revised: March 28, 2022
If you’re like many of us, you’re probably conscious of the trash that you send to the landfill – especially all the stuff that doesn’t break down quickly like plastics and metals. But you may not know that organic trash — stuff that decomposes — also makes a big impact on the environment and it’s a challenge for city Waste Management Departments.
Approximately 30-40 percent of the average landfill is taken up by organic trash – yard waste, brush, food scraps, etc. When it decomposes, it releases methane into the atmosphere, which is more than 25 times as potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Globally, landfills release around 12 percent of the total methane emissions. While that sounds bleak, there is good news: methane doesn’t live nearly as long in the atmosphere as CO2 (12 years vs 100-300 years). That means that if we reduce methane emissions, we’ll see a faster benefit in terms of reduced greenhouse gases.
There are many ways that Waste Management Departments reduce greenhouse emissions, including methane capture and tunnel composting. The City of San Antonio is trying to keep much of the organic waste out of the landfill all together and, instead, recycle it into something useful – mulch. The key: a super heavy-duty grinder.
The city uses a HogZilla tub grinder powered by a Cat® C32 engine. It’s got the torque, power, and reliability they need to create mulch out of the nearly 100,000 tons of brush, Christmas trees and other debris that would have otherwise ended up rotting in a landfill. The city provides the mulch to residents at low cost, or sometimes for free. So, instead of creating emissions, all that garbage-turned-mulch is making landscaping around the city more beautiful.
This is just one way that Cat powered grinders help our communities improve the environment. Check out this story about how our customers are helping communities make the switch to solar energy.
Rachel has been with Caterpillar for 9 years. She is currently in the Brand Team working as a storyteller and brand instructor. She lives with her husband, a Caterpillar engineer, and two young daughters who absolutely love excavators. She often describes her family as "bleeding yellow." They live on the family farm in northern Ohio where they enjoy long walks through the woods and gardening.
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