Here’s a new product that I’m not quite sure what to make of … 

Taking a cue from bioreactor landfillsGarbogone is a baggie of unidentified  liquid goo (I e-mailed the company to see if they could tell me more about what the substance consists of, but my e-mail was not returned) that you add to your trash before putting it out for collection. Supposedly, the nutrient-rich ingredients help break down the organic content of your landfilled garbage quickly and more effectively. This, in turn, frees up landfill space and speeds up the production of landfill gas (LFG).

What’s landfill gas, you ask? Well, it’s rather awful. The byproduct of organic waste's natural decomposition in the absence of oxygen, landfill gas is composed of 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide with trace amounts of oxygen, nitrogen and other containments. It’s a potent, highly polluting brew that’s quite dangerous when not managed properly since it can build up and explode. So why would you want to buy a product that promotes that aids in the production of this stinky, dangerous stuff?

In many, but certainly not all (only about 509 out of 2,300 American landfills), LFG is collected, purified, and used to produce clean, green energy that minimizes pollution, offsets the need for oil or natural gas, and destroys methane, a greenhouse gas. Essentially, a bad thing is captured and turned into a good thing. But does this mean you should be adding Garbogone to your trash to help it decompose and become gassy? And what if your local landfill doesn’t capture and reuse LFG?

I’m on the fence with this one. While the Garbogone website offers plenty of relevant information about LFG to energy projects (something I admittedly don’t know much about), what I really want to know is does it work? It’s not exactly the kind of product you can easily test out and then return for a refund if not satisfied. And although a majority of landfills that do not collect and reuse LFG gas, they do monitor and flare it but it’s not a 100 percent foolproof method … LFG still can still escape and become a health, environmental and safety issue.

At $13.95 for a case of 20 Garbogone packets, adding a supplement to your trash can wind up being a pricey green undertaking particularly for large households. Wouldn’t it just be more cost-effective to compost organic waste? What do you think? Would you add a liquid supplement to your garbage that aids in the production of a dangerous, global warming-causing gas that’s sometimes but not always captured and reused? 

Images: Garbogone

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Should you be making your garbage more gassy?
Garbogone is a natural supplement added to your household garbage that helps it produce methane-filled landfill gas more rapidly. Is this a good thing?