How Well Did Your Region Of The US Recycle In 2008?

As part of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) analysis conducted by the EPA, they had to develop a methodology to correlate the data. This report can be found at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/06numbers.pdf. To summarize the report, the hierarchy for tailoring the methodology to the community focused on:

  • Source reduction (or waste prevention), including reuse of products and on-site (or backyard) composting of yard trimmings.
  • Recycling, including off-site (or community) composting.
  • Combustion with energy recovery.
  • Disposal through landfilling or combustion without energy recovery.

 

From this methodology, the analysis reports the following regional differences had to be factored in to determine the specific community methodology: 

  • Variations in climate and local waste management practices, which greatly influence generation of yard trimmings. For instance, yard trimmings exhibit strong seasonal variations in most regions of the country. Also, the level of backyard composting in a region will affect generation of yard trimmings.
  • Differences in the scope of waste streams. That is, a local landfill may be receiving construction and demolition wastes in addition to MSW, but these data tables address MSW only.
  • Variance in the per capita generation of some products, such as newspapers and telephone directories, depending upon the average size of the publications. Typically, rural areas will generate less of these products on a per person basis than urban areas.
  • Level of commercial activity in a community. This will influence the generation rate of some products, such as office paper, corrugated boxes, wood pallets, and food scraps from restaurants.
  • Variations in economic activity, which affect waste generation in both the residential and the commercial sectors.
  • Local and state regulations and practices. Deposit laws, bans on landfilling of specific products, and variable rate pricing for waste collection are examples of practices that can influence a local waste stream.

 

How well did your region do? For the different regions in the US, the following summary data was available on the EPA site at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008data.pdf in tables 25-28:

Table 25: NUMBER AND POPULATION SERVED BY CURBSIDE RECYCLABLES COLLECTION PROGRAMS, 2008

The Midwest had the largest number of programs with 3,749, but the Northeast served the largest percentage of population at 84%. The southeast was lowest in both of these categories at 797 programs and 30% respectively.

Table 26: MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITIES, 2008

The Southeast had the greatest number of facilities at 152, but the Northeast had the greatest estimated throughput at 23,238 tons/day.

Table 27: MUNICIPAL WASTE-TO-ENERGY PROJECTS, 2008

The Northeast won both categories of the number of operational projects at 40 and largest design capacity at 46,537 tons/day.

Table 28: LANDFILL FACILITIES, 2008

The Southeast had the largest number of facilities at 726.

With these differences understood, local planning can use the data to customize the strategy to reduce or manage the waste.

We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts.

Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.

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