Estimating Degradable Organic Carbon (DOC) Values & the Impact of Non-MSW Materials



In landfills, biogas production is the result of anaerobic degradation of organic wastes. The amount of degradable organic carbon (DOC) in landfilled organics (e.g. paper, food, yard waste, wood) dictates the amount of carbon available for conversion to biogas.

Due to its high methane content (i.e. 50-70%), entities, such as U.S. EPA and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), maintain inventories of landfill gas emissions. When estimating emissions, guideline DOC values for MSW or total (bulk) waste are typically used. However, these guideline values may not be representative of landfilled waste stream(s), especially as MSW composition changes and as more non-MSW materials are accepted at MSW landfills.

The report provides insight to the following questions:

  • What types of Subtitle D wastes can be accepted at MSW landfills, and how does this vary by state?
  • Are current U.S. reporting guideline values for DOC (i.e. 0.31 for MSW and 0.20 for bulk waste) representative of waste streams accepted at MSW landfills?

The following update has been made to this report:

Page 11, Table 5, footnotes updated to include:

fResiduals includes: composting residuals and recycling residuals.

gOther includes: other non-hazardous wastes, inerts, and “other” as reported by the states.

This update occurred June 3, 2019. Download links from past and future orders now link to a PDF that reflects the update above. You do not need to reorder the report to access the updated version.