Illinois Landfill Methane Emissions are the Ninth Worst in the Country

6 out of 10 of the Largest Industrial Methane Emitters in Illinois are Landfills

CHICAGO (May 31, 2023)— Industrious Labs released a new analysis today that shows how Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills in all fifty states compare to other large industrial methane emitters.
Illinois ranks ninth among states in harmful methane emissions from MSW landfills. Interactive state maps and dashboards that compare landfills to other large industrial emitters are available for all fifty states on the site

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Liz Kunkle, Zero Waste Policy Manager at the Illinois Environmental Council. “This dashboard will be a foundational tool as we make our case to policymakers for improved tracking and decreasing landfill methane emissions in Illinois.”

The analysis uses data provided by industrial operators with the largest greenhouse gas emissions to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. Methane has a major impact on climate in the short term. The EPA has previously estimated that landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.: 103,700,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) over a 100-year time frame. The emissions estimates reported to the EPA are based on formulas, not direct measurement, and experts argue that landfill emissions could be at least double those estimates. 

The Winnebago landfill tops the list of top landfill emitters in Illinois, releasing an estimated 303,363 metric tons of CO2e, followed by Roxana Landfill at an estimated 180,423 metric tons of CO2e, and Advanced Disposal Orchard Hills Landfill at an estimated 163,175 metric tons of CO2e.

“Landfills are out of sight and out of mind for most Americans, but our analysis reveals landfills are the biggest industrial source of methane emissions in most states.  Organic waste, mostly food, causes methane emissions with severe short-term global warming potential, and these emissions are both underreported and under-regulated,” said Katherine Blauvelt, Circular Economy Campaign Director for Industrious Labs.  

The impact of landfills goes beyond climate change: pollution from nearby landfills can impact quality of life and health of nearby residents. 

The website also details solutions at the local, state and federal level. “There are exciting alternatives to spending billions every year  burning and burying waste while harming the climate and communities,” said Blauvelt. 

“In Illinois, we are actively educating legislators and other decision-makers on the benefits of shifting our thinking from a ’take-make-waste’ approach to one that keeps products and materials circulating in the economy,” said Kunkle. “More transparent and easily accessible data visualization will make those conversations even more productive and help advance those policy solutions in the coming months and years.”


Top 10 States by Landfill Methane Emissions


Ranking in Total Methane Emissions from Landfills













North Carolina








*=Exporter of waste

**=Importer of waste

Source:  Industrious Labs’ data analysis of EPA GHGRP 2021 data, and a 2013 industry survey by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF).



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