by Alan Housley / LoadMan VP of Marketing.
Waste diversion, as defined by the USEPA, is the prevention and reduction of generated waste through source reduction, recycling, reuse, or composting. Not only does waste diversion solve the huge inequity between the amount of Material Solid Waste (MSW) and landfill space, but it also provides profitable streams of waste materials that are processed at Material Recycling Facilities – both public and private.
In its simplest form, waste diversion is the separating of MSW components into three different waste streams: solid waste, recyclable material and compost material.
Nearly all waste diversion starts at homes and businesses where waste is separated for curbside cart and dumpster pickup. But this simple process does not work as well as it should – even with thousands of direct public education and awareness programs delivered by waste haulers, municipalities and institutions who are chartered with their community’s waste disposal. To assist, municipal public works and private businesses have dramatically grown recycling streams with extraordinary services and processes that make the waste/landfill inequity manageable.
Waste Diversion Best Practices
Studying the waste and recycling programs from leading municipalities and other institutions across the nation leads to a list of best practices.
> Recycling must be mandated – first within state/city/county government(s) to learn and to set the example to the public. Grass roots programs once drove awareness in the 80’s and 90’s, but results have proven that mandatory recycling has most effectively changed the habits of individuals, homes and businesses.
> Variable rate systems – the larger the waste can/bin/cart, the greater the customer’s service cost.
> Set the customer service cost to the size of the solid waste can, and provide all recycling and composting carts/bins and their pick-ups for free.
> Ban any recycled material or compost from the solid waste can (and vice versa). Maybe even banning any pick-ups where waste and recycled material are commingled.
> Establish an Office of Grants for raising needed capital from public and private funding of waste diversion programs.
Most recycling mandates are quite simple. First, the municipality/haulers provide curbside carts (dumpsters for businesses) for the separation of the three waste materials. In most successful communities, the cans are set out for solid waste (landfill destinations), recycling (MRF destinations) and compost/organics (MRF destinations).
The next article of this series will expand further on mandates. All part of the 1st step on the Path to Zero Waste.
Anyone who is responsible for sustainability programs in their institution, municipality, business, university or military base should benefit from these postings to further their knowledge of sustainability best practices; especially for waste materials and their effects on environmental sustainability.