It’s All About Control
May 20, 2011
When I talk about WalMart retail stores’ waste diversion rate of 80 percent, I’m reminded by my garbage buddies that WalMart, like other corporations, has a very controlled waste stream. They know exactly what kind of garbage is created in their business. They control who hauls the garbage and where it goes.
Some municipalities have control of their waste stream and some don’t. If you have several different haulers running up and down your streets, you might not even know the final destination of that garbage, or the actual amount of waste generated in your community. If you don’t know that amount, how are you going to gauge progress in your recycling and waste reduction program? The goal is to reduce the amount of garbage generated, right? So, you really need to know the volume generated by your entire community.
If your community does have control of the waste stream, it can approach waste minimization much like corporations do. Audits can be performed to find out what items are being thrown away and in what quantity. Viable markets for the recyclables can be identified, and reuse programs can be implemented.
Our solid waste department in Fayetteville, Arkansas tells us, we generate enough garbage, annually, in Fayetteville, to fill up the University’s Razorback Stadium—seven stories high. Razorback Stadium seats 70,000 fans, so you can imagine seven stories of garbage in that stadium is not a small amount.
A vivid garbage metric can really help as you set goals for your waste reduction program. Check out the US EPA charts to help you get familiar with the concept of waste stream components, then ask your solid waste department for information specific to your community. You must have that specific information to measure the effectiveness of your program. And if public monies are being spent, you really want to know how much progress is being made.
We’d love to hear what you learn as you ask questions about your solid waste program. You can contact us at share@WasteReductionResources.com.
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