The Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013 Report was previously named Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures. The report’s new name emphasizes the importance of sustainable materials management (SMM). SMM refers to the use and reuse of materials in the most productive and sustainable way across their entire life cycle. SMM conserves resources, reduces waste, slows climate change and minimizes the environmental impacts of the materials we use.
New this year is additional information on source reduction (waste prevention) of municipal solid waste (MSW); information on historical tipping fees for MSW; and information on the Construction and Demolition Debris generation, which is outside of the scope of MSW.
The full report, which is released every two years, contains data on:
- MSW generation, recovery, and disposal from 1960 to 2013;
- Per capita generation and discard rates;
- Source reduction (waste prevention);
- Materials and products that are in the waste stream;
- Aggregate data on the infrastructure for MSW management, including estimates of the number of curbside recycling programs, composting programs, and landfills in the US; and
- Trends in MSW management from 1960 to 2013, including source reduction, recycling and composting, and disposal via combustion and landfilling.
- Construction and demolition debris generation (starting with Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013)
Reports from previous years are also available.
The 2014 results highlight those institutions with the highest total waste diversion rate (stadium and tailgating areas combined). Humboldt State University tops the Diversion Rate leader board at 86.05 percent, while Clemson University had the highest total recyclable material at 60,724 pounds. Results by conference and full results are also available.
The GameDay Recycling Challenge is a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games. During the challenge, colleges and universities implement waste reduction programs during home football games, track and report the data.
Read the full story in the New York Times.
Rising from a denuded landscape not far from this area’s famed beaches, the nation’s first new commercial garbage incinerator in 20 years is about to be fired up, ready to blast up to 3,000 tons of trash a day into electricity for thousands of houses.
With landfills shunned, recycling programs stalled and the country’s record-setting trash output unyielding, new waste-to-energy plants are being eyed as a path to salvation. Facilities similar to the $670 million incinerator here, common in Europe, are under consideration in Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Americans produce 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day, the most in the world, and the talk of returning to incineration, industry experts say, is an acknowledgment of defeat in the effort to reduce output and step up recycling.
Read the full story in Future Structure.
Closing the loop on waste – and integrating it with other systems – may be more than a noble policy goal. In fact, it may make smart economic sense as well. Waste streams often still contain things of remarkable value – if they are extracted and used in the right way. Landfill mining advocates note that landfills have a higher concentration of aluminum than the metallic ore that is normally used as a raw material. The East Bay Municipal Utility District in California is using food and bio waste to save $3 million per year and generate more than enough electricity to meet its own needs. “Waste to energy” projects are cropping up in Mexico, Canada, Scotland and Norway. And as water rights become an increasingly difficult issue – especially in the American West and South – reusing water from the waste stream is a particularly encouraging prospect.
Read the full story at Fast Company.
Cigarette butts are no ordinary litter menace. First, there are so many of them; they’re always the most numerous in litter counts. In one audit in San Francisco, “tobacco product wastes” (which includes butts, wrappers and packaging) made up 24.6% of the total litter count.
Butts also contain several toxins that accumulate after smoking, including chemicals from preparing tobacco, and additives that flavor cigarettes and let them to burn longer. That includes the flavoring ethyl phenol, which is harmful at higher concentrations.
In a new paper in Current Environmental Health Reports, Thomas Novotny and Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University argue that “tobacco product wastes” (TPW) are an under-appreciated problem, and that current strategies like anti-littering laws aren’t addressing it enough.