Papers to Practice Podcast: SOIL’s Dr. Sasha Kramer and Research Partner, Dr. Rebecca Ryal discuss GHG Emissions and Waste

Last week, SOIL Executive Director Dr. Sasha Kramer, was featured, along with research partner, Dr. Rebecca Ryals of UC Merced, on the Papers to Practice podcast to talk about some of the research they have done to better understand the positive environmental impacts of SOIL’s service and waste treatment methodology. Specifically, the podcast focused on one of the publications produced from this work titled Greenhouse gas fluxes from human waste management pathways in Haiti. The Papers to Practice podcast features discussion with the authors of sanitation-related publications and highlights key points and takeaways in order to make the research and findings more easily accessible to busy professionals. The series is co-hosted by Laura Kohler of the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) & Dorthee Spuhler of EAWAG to improve knowledge translation in the sanitation sector.

In this episode, Sasha shares an overview of SOIL’s approach to providing sanitation to households in Haiti and the evolution of ideas that led to the organization’s current Container Based Sanitation model. She also explains the research that SOIL conducted comparing the carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions from two waste treatment operations in Haiti, an anaerobic waste stabilization pond, and an open field where sewage is known to be illegally dumped, as well as a comparison to SOIL’s composting waste treatment method, to better understand the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) fluxes related to non-sewered waste management. To ensure universal access to safe and climate positive WASH services over the long-term it’s important to not only improve system and service resilience, but also understand the emissions produced by different options, to ultimately reduce them where possible.

Key takeaways from the paper include: 

  • Sanitation is an overlooked climate solution and one that is under quantified in terms of its GHG mitigation potential. The impacts are more significant than we thought.
  • The way in which waste is managed has a big impact on the amount of GHG that are emitted–it’s not just a function of the volume of waste, but how we capture, treat and reuse the material is important.
  • Sanitation system designs must be climate-beneficial and resilient while providing access to dignified sanitation services. 

Sasha also shared that two of the ideal audiences for this paper are governments and development banks who are doing large scale sanitation decision making and planning. Hopefully by listening to the research findings they will consider the question: How do we design sanitation systems that are climate positive and climate beneficial and resilient to climate change?

Listen to the full podcast and conversation here.


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