Saturday, March 24, 2012

A weigh to reduce garbage

Residential garbage makes up a third of the waste that we currently send to landfills. By aligning our incentives and weighing our garbage, we can reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill and save money.
In a perfect world we wouldn't need landfill anything, and we can get most of the way there. Let's look at the situation.
First, the big picture: World population is increasing, while resources are decreasing. The price of raw materials is only going to go up.
If you're looking for raw materials, the waste stream is a great place to find them, often at a discount. When you factor in the fact that you don't have to pay ~$100 per tonne to landfill them, recycling becomes even more of a bargain.
Municipalities pay for waste in tonnes, because it's easy to measure. Technology has come far enough that with a little equipment on the garbage truck, it could weigh the container before and after emptying and charge residents by weight. Less garbage means a smaller bill.
This system would reward people who don't make much garbage and encourage people who have lots of garbage to reduce their waste.
The other big way to significantly reduce residential contributions to landfill is to divert organics. About half of residential garbage is organic, split evenly between yard waste and kitchen organics.
Composting these costs about half as much per tonne as collecting and landfilling yard waste, and a valuable product is obtained at the end. Nutrients stay in the nutrient cycle, rather than being buried in the landfill.
A collection system that would weigh and compost the organics at half the cost of the garbage would encourage people to separate the two, while not penalizing the people who use backyard composters and leave their grass clippings on their lawn.
Keeping the organics separate and out of the landfills would feed the soil, which feeds the plants, which feed the people again. Maintaining those nutrients in the cycle is good for our tummies and our pocketbooks.
It's certainly a shift in the way we approach things, but a focus on waste reduction can come along with cost reductions, especially as landfill tipping fees continue to rise.
There are certainly some transition costs associated with changing status quo, but whether the motivation is personal cost savings or the environmental factors, maybe we can have our cake and eat it too.
p.s. In case you're wondering, the other two categories that make up the rest are ICI (Institutional, Commercial, Industrial) at ~40% and Construction & Demolition waste at ~27% of the waste stream.
You might also like:
Garbage Day. (This is where I recycled today's picture from.)
Waste Reduction: Garbage and Time
Compost: Nature's Recycle Depot

1 comment:

  1. With the change of time limitation occur in resources which not only inspire people to find alternative for this but also to reduce the amount of goods and services used by people .Activity of this kind will provide some relief to earth from being a garbage bag.

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