Landfill Methane Outreach Program
Communicating the Benefits of Landfill Gas Energy Projects
Marketing & Communications Toolkit
- Whom Do You Want to Reach?
- What Do You Want to Communicate about Your Project?
- How Do You Get Your Message Out?
- When Is It Most Useful to Do Your Outreach?
- Tips for Effective Communication about Landfill Gas Energy and LMOP
- Promoting Your LMOP Participation
The following tips are offered for beginning or expanding outreach efforts for your landfill gas (LFG) energy project.
Whom Do You Want to Reach?
- Community leaders, such as local officials (town or city council members, city managers, the mayor), and representatives from environmental groups, consumer and civic associations, schools, and nongovernmental and educational organizations.
- Your neighbors. People who live closest to your landfill are often the most interested in your project and its impact on the community and local environment. Even if your project is located in a rural area, nearby communities and people whose waste has gone to the landfill are interested in new developments at the landfill. Working with your neighbors and asking for their support is important to your project’s success.
- Employees, customers/users, and shareholders. Educating your employees and getting them interested in your LFG energy project is often an important first outreach step. Users of the energy generated or the landfill itself are also important target audiences. If you are a private firm, you also want to reach your customers and shareholders.
What Do You Want to Communicate about Your Project?
- Environmental benefits. LFG energy projects lead to cleaner air, including reductions of smog, odor, and greenhouse gas emissions. Use LMOP’s LFG Energy Benefits Calculator to estimate greenhouse gas reductions from LFG recovery projects.
- Economic benefits. LFG energy projects create jobs associated with the design, construction, and operation of energy recovery systems. Much of the construction and development funding is spent locally for drilling, piping, construction, and operational personnel. Also, economic development near the landfill may improve as a result of odor reductions or other project activities. In North Carolina, for example, LFG energy is used innovatively to provide heat and power to greenhouses and a craft studio, providing a unique economic development opportunity for the community. To estimate the economic feasibility or job benefits of an LFG energy project, LMOP Partners can use LFGcost-Web.
- Community benefits. All project partners benefit from using LFG, especially the community. LFG energy projects help ensure that local landfills are well managed and make the area around the site a better place to live.
- Energy benefits. LFG is a reliable, renewable, local fuel source that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. LFG is one of the few renewable resources that directly reduces pollution to the atmosphere. Since LFG occurs naturally, when it is collected and converted to energy a fuel source is used that would otherwise be wasted. LFG energy projects are available to generate electricity over 90 percent of the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How Do You Get Your Message Out?
Working with your local media is one of the most effective ways to communicate the benefits of LFG energy to your local community. The environmental and community benefits of your LFG energy project, the potential for economic returns, and the technical innovations are selling points for a news story about LFG energy. Some of LMOP’s tools that can help with this are the environmental benefits calculator and sample press releases.
Additional ways to communicate your message include conducting site tours; making presentations at community meetings; placing advertisements in print media and on TV and radio; creating brochures, flyers, or posters; developing a display or booth for community events; and creating a project website. A checklist can help you keep track of tasks, and sample flyers and posters (viewable by Partners) can provide inspiration.
When Is It Most Useful to Do Your Outreach?
Two rules of thumb apply to outreach activities:
It’s never too early to start letting people know about your LFG energy project. The sooner you publicize your project, the more time you’ll have to get people acquainted with your efforts and excited about the positive impacts the project will have.
From groundbreaking to ribbon cutting, your LFG energy project is big news! Keep your community and other stakeholders informed of your project’s development, even once it is up and running. When your project comes on line, you will have many opportunities to share information and publicize your accomplishments.
Tips for Effective Communication about LFG Energy and LMOP
TipEarth Day, April 22, is a great time to promote your LMOP participation. Try to plan ahead. If you already have activities planned for Earth Day, think about promoting your project during October, which is Energy Awareness Month.
- Educate. Even if it is second nature to you, many people in your community may not be familiar with LFG energy and how it works. It may be necessary to explain in detail what LFG is—that it is naturally generated as waste decomposes—and how it is collected and converted to energy. Some of the items in the Sample Outreach Tools can help you explain LFG energy concepts.
- Make it personal. Engage your audience by showing them how they will personally benefit from your LFG energy project. Discuss benefits in terms of the local community and explain that supporting your project means they are supporting an important community and environmental initiative.
- Be credible. Be specific about your environmental achievements. Explain exactly what you are doing to help the environment, how your project reduces methane emissions, why methane should be collected, and how you are improving the environment around the landfill as well as the global environment.
- Keep it simple. Use plain English and take time to define terms. For example, many audiences do not know that LFG can be used for energy. First explain how LFG is produced and then how it can be used as an energy resource. Then you can use the term "LFG energy" freely.
- Make it tangible. Methane reduction and LFG energy may be difficult concepts for people to understand or fully appreciate. When you translate the processes and benefits into real–world terms, your audience is more likely to get the message. LMOP’s benefits calculator, as an example, describes the environmental benefits of LFG energy projects in terms of trees planted, gallons of oil saved, etc. A site tour may make your project more tangible to your audience.
Examples of Explaining Technical LFG Energy Terms in Plain English
- Energy recovery system:
- Equipment that converts LFG to electricity, steam, or another energy use.
- A device that burns LFG. Flaring LFG reduces odors, safety concerns, methane emissions, and air pollution, but does not provide energy benefits.
- Gas collection system:
- A system of wells and piping used to bring LFG from the landfill to the flare or energy recovery system.
- Gas migration:
- The underground movement of LFG from landfills to other areas within or outside the landfill property, or the uncontrolled surface emissions of LFG into the air.
- Landfill gas:
- Gas generated during the natural process of bacterial decomposition of organic material contained in municipal solid waste landfills. By volume, LFG is about 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide and water vapor. It also contains small amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, less than 1 percent nonmethane organic compounds, and trace amounts of inorganic compounds.
- LFG energy:
- Use of LFG for fuel in engines to produce electricity, boilers to produce steam heat, compression uses, pipeline-quality gas or vehicle fuel (if upgraded by treatment), and greenhouses. LFG is a renewable energy resource.
- One of the major constituents of LFG, generated naturally as a byproduct of waste decomposition. Methane is colorless, odorless, explosive, and a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Promoting Your LMOP Participation
- Your association with EPA gives your project credibility. EPA is a trusted source of information on environmental matters. Your participation in a voluntary EPA program that supports the development of LFG energy can help build credibility for your project and the legitimacy of LFG as an energy resource.
- Your partnership with EPA is big news that highlights your commitment to environmental responsibility. Your participation in LMOP represents a voluntary commitment to helping the environment. By partnering with EPA and working together to implement solutions to environmental challenges, you serve as an example of the benefits of voluntary programs, something that your stakeholders—employees, customers, community members, and suppliers—can appreciate.
In addition to the many promotional tools in Sample Outreach Tools, EPA can offer other ideas and assistance to LMOP Partners who want extra help in crafting their communications message. Contact your LMOP Territory Manager for more information.
EPA also regularly features LMOP Partners’ accomplishments on our website and in our newsletter, the Gasette. If you think you might have a good story to share, let us know by emailing your LMOP Territory Manager.