Rio de Janeiro hits the gas in push toward its zero carbon goal

(Reuters, 26 Feb 2019) Capturing methane gas from garbage to burn for energy is helping the city cut its climate-changing emissions.

In its efforts to slash its climate-changing emissions nearly to zero by 2050, Rio de Janeiro has chosen a perhaps unlikely place to start: its trash bins.

At a huge waste treatment plant outside of the famed beach city, methane gas released by buried municipal garbage is captured and turned into energy as part of the city's key push to meet its ambitious goals to become carbon neutral.

Every day, trucks unload 10,000 tons of waste at the CTR waste treatment plant in Seropedica, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro.

The plant turns household and industrial food and yard waste, which once would have rotted in a landfill - creating a major source of climate-change-spurring emissions - into biogas that is sold to industries or to the state's gas company.

The waste treatment plant, unusual in Latin America, can produce 20,000 cubic metres of purified gas an hour, according to Jose Henrique Monteiro Penido, the head of environmental sustainability at COMLURB, Rio's waste management company.

"Everyone talks about recycling but the biggest environmental problem is the organic fraction of garbage," he said.

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Reuters, 26 Feb 2019: Rio de Janeiro hits the gas in push toward its zero carbon goal