From the Editors
Where do broken refrigerators go to die? What about old construction debris? These are some of the morbid questions the Ecosystem Marketplace team has pondered over the last month. What we found on our tours of a recycling center and a landfill is that there are some carbon-conscious undertakers out there who are making sure these throwaways don't pollute the atmosphere – and that someone gets paid for the offsets they produce.
Our first visit was to the Appliance Recycling Centers of America's (ARCA) Compton, California facility which has recycled over a million refrigerators over 21 years –and earned at least $1.3 million from carbon offset sales to date. These outdated fridges look innocuous, but those manufactured before the mid-90s likely contain R-12, a colorless chlorofluorocarbon that has dangerous heat-trapping capabilities and has since been banned. Destroying the R-12 trapped in old fridges allows ARCA to produce carbon offsets under California's cap-and-trade program.
Another visit was to the Hilltop Sand and Gravel landfill in Alexandria, Virginia, where the Gailliott family spent three decades collecting old destruction debris. After closing the landfill in 2010, owner Mike Gailliot did something he was not required to do by law: he capped his pile of debris and installed methane flaring equipment to burn off the gas into a less potent form, reducing its impact on the atmosphere by 95%. The voluntary project is verified under the Climate Action Reserve and generated 16,898 offsets during its first year of operation.
In ARCA's case, the offset buyers are motivated by their compliance obligation. Offsets created from the destruction of ozone depleting substances such as R-12 made up 60% of reported offset transactions under California cap-and-trade in 2014 with an average price of $9.7, according to analysis published earlier this year by Ecosystem Marketplace.
For Hilltop Sand and Gravel, the offset buyers are voluntary. The Gailliot family found a purchasing partner in WGL Energy, a supplier to the natural gas utility Washington Gas that serves the D.C. region. WGL automatically offsets a portion of its customers' emissions – 5% for residential customers and 3.5% for small commercial customers – and gives them the option to do more. Since the program started in 2010, WGL customers have voluntarily purchased more than 200,000 offsets, all from nearby sites.
"We wanted all the projects within a day's drive but also within the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said Alicia LaRoche, WGL's Green Products Manager.
News brief nuptials
Ecosystem Marketplace is excited to announce the official union of our V-Carbon and Forest Carbon News Briefs. The two newsletters have long flirted with each other's topics and readers, and it is finally time to tie the knot. Beginning in September, we will be launching an integrated newsletter, where you'll be able to get all the need-to-know news and analysis on carbon – particularly forest carbon – finance in a twice-monthly dose. If you are already receiving either newsletter in your inbox, there is nothing more you need to do to subscribe, but feel free to offer feedback on what you would like to see in our new format.
Wedding gifts are appreciated; please feel free to voice your support for the new union with a donation here. For $150/year, your organization's name and weblink will be listed in the newsletter for one year, reaching more than 10,000 readers biweekly.
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