Resource and greenhouse gas assessments of the thermochemical conversion of municipal solid waste in Mexico

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© 2016 American Chemical Society. The use of components in municipal solid waste (MSW) as feedstock for liquid transportation biofuels and chemicals can be a sustainable solution for energy needs while minimizing impacts of landfills on the environment. This study conducts a resource assessment for available MSW in Mexico and concludes that when the organic and polyolefin plastic components are converted to liquid hydrocarbon transportation biofuels through a pyrolysis-based pathway, up to 7% of Mexico's transportation-fuel consumption needs could be met. A preliminary carbon footprint analysis (CFA) using stage-specific emission factors from the literature shows that liquid transportation biofuels from the organic portion of MSW (paper, packaging, wood, yard trimmings) sequesters 9.5 g CO2 eq per MJ biofuel, with significant pathway credits due to avoiding landfill CH4 emissions. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the conversion of the polyolefin plastic in the MSW are positive (88 g CO2 eq per MJ), though still lower than current fossil transportation fuels in Mexico (95.5 g CO2 eq per MJ). Based on these resource assessments and preliminary carbon footprint results, MSW in Mexico should be considered a promising feedstock for biofuel production through conversion research and updated carbon footprint analyses.

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ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering