Jan 27, 2016 0 Comments in Published Papers by

Small Article GraphicBy Alan Housley / LoadMan VP of Marketing

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.

U.S is the Largest Waste Creator on Earth
The United States holds the dubious distinction of leading the world in Material Solid Waste. According to the USEPA, nearly 255 million tons, or 4.4 pounds per person per day, of MSW was generated in 2013.  The amount of MSW generated has changed significantly since 1960 when only 88.1 million tons (2.7 pounds per person per day) of MSW were generated – nearly a 300% increase in 50 years.


Figure 1. US MSW Generated (USEPA 2015)

United States Landfill Space is Dramatically Limited
While the world watches the U.S. creating 250 million tons of MSW, we’ve witnessed a huge reduction in landfill availability. In 1970, there were around 20,000 landfills.  Today that number has dropped by over 90% to just over 1900 MSW landfills in 2013 (see Figure 2). No matter how sharp the pencil, the numbers just won’t work. A 300% growth in MSW in 50 years and only 10% of the 1970 landfills remain 40 years later. 

Note that most of the lost MSW landfill space has come about because of necessary and stringent USEPA guidelines for safe landfills that will not leachate our underground water sources.  Many of these abandoned landfills were created on the outskirts of each city or township and many have been removed by direction of the USEPA.

Figure 2. Number of USA Landfills (USEPA 2015)

The clear problem faced with everyone (citizen, municipality, businesses large and small, campuses, military bases, and so on), is that there is no way to fit a 300% growth in MSW into a 90% smaller landfill. 

Waste material reduction and diversion is a must for any environmental sustainability plan; whether municipalities, universities, military bases, corporations or real estate holdings.

But wait, there’s even more.
If these statistics weren’t bad enough, the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) produced their own report in 2015 citing issues with the methodology used by the USEPA.  Using their own methodologies, the NWRA produced statistics that completely overshadow some of those shown above….

…see our next post.

Previous articles:
Environmental Sustainability – Path to zero waste.

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