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Charting Vermonts Course to Waste Prevention: Trends in Waste Generation and Composition Natalie Starr and Ted Siegler DSM Environmental Services, Inc.

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Presentation on theme: "Charting Vermonts Course to Waste Prevention: Trends in Waste Generation and Composition Natalie Starr and Ted Siegler DSM Environmental Services, Inc."— Presentation transcript:

1 Charting Vermonts Course to Waste Prevention: Trends in Waste Generation and Composition Natalie Starr and Ted Siegler DSM Environmental Services, Inc.

2 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What is Waste Prevention? Waste represents a stream of distinct products and materials we use everyday as individual and institutional consumers Waste represents a stream of distinct products and materials we use everyday as individual and institutional consumers One common definition of Waste Prevention is the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials that reduces the amount and toxicity of waste generated. One common definition of Waste Prevention is the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials that reduces the amount and toxicity of waste generated.

3 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT The Problem With this Definition Assumes that we, as a society, will continue to consume the materials and products at the same rate Assumes that we, as a society, will continue to consume the materials and products at the same rate That is one of the reasons that we feel good about recycling! That is one of the reasons that we feel good about recycling!

4 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Positive Feedback Loop of Recycling Purchase and Consume Generate Waste Recycle (Recycled Content)

5 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Are we promoting feel good purchasing?

6 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT We All Know The Numbers According to the US EPA, the average person generates about 4.5 pounds of municipal solid waste every day According to the US EPA, the average person generates about 4.5 pounds of municipal solid waste every day And the average continues to grow despite significant light weighting of many products and packages And the average continues to grow despite significant light weighting of many products and packages And that is just municipal solid waste from consumption looking forward And that is just municipal solid waste from consumption looking forward

7 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Sustainable Dartmouth?

8 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What if we were responsible for all the waste that our lifestyle represents?

9 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT The Answer Is Simple: Wed Use Less Stuff

10 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Our Economy Has Depended on Growth in Consumption We measure GDP – all about growth We measure GDP – all about growth Economic growth translates to waste growth Economic growth translates to waste growth All indicators are that we consume more, not less All indicators are that we consume more, not less

11 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Americans Consistently Use Gains in Efficiency to Increase Consumption

12 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT A Few Examples Honda Motor Company has increased fuel efficiency 1.5% per year since 1987, but all of this has been used to increase other attributes more highly valued by consumers: Honda Motor Company has increased fuel efficiency 1.5% per year since 1987, but all of this has been used to increase other attributes more highly valued by consumers: Performance (speed) Performance (speed) Comfort (air conditioning, size, electronics) Comfort (air conditioning, size, electronics) Utility (size) Utility (size) Safety Safety Source: Climate Change: Near Term Actions and Strategies, John German, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., May 5, 2006

13 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT More Importantly

14 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Similar Gains In Efficiency Have Occurred In Home Construction More efficient use of materials More efficient use of materials Higher insulation values Higher insulation values More efficient heating and cooling systems More efficient heating and cooling systems

15 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT The Result

16 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT How Do We Compare? American homes are on average double the size of those in other richest nations American homes are on average double the size of those in other richest nations Homes in 2002 required 890 ft 2 per person of materials as opposed to 290 ft 2 in 1950 Homes in 2002 required 890 ft 2 per person of materials as opposed to 290 ft 2 in 1950 Study found 1500 sq ft home with relatively poor insulation characteristics still outperformed the 3000 ft 2 home with good insulation characteristics. Study found 1500 sq ft home with relatively poor insulation characteristics still outperformed the 3000 ft 2 home with good insulation characteristics. Sources: House Size Matters, Michael Horowitz, VBSR. Small is Beautiful: U.S. House Size, Resource Use, and the Environment, Alex Wilson and Jessica Boehland.

17 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What about Waste Generation? Vermonts 1989 Solid Waste Management Plan states: Vermonts 1989 Solid Waste Management Plan states: We assume that during the next 13 years efforts by the State and regions resulting from Act 78, together with increasing disposal costs, will stop increases in per capita generation rates.We assume that during the next 13 years efforts by the State and regions resulting from Act 78, together with increasing disposal costs, will stop increases in per capita generation rates.

18 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Where Are We in Vermont 18 Years Later?

19 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT MSW Disposed: Vermont vs. US (Thousands of tons per year)

20 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Trends in Per Capita Generation

21 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Per Capita Diversion and Disposal: Vermont and US

22 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Per Capita Diversion and Disposal: CSWD and Vermont

23 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Previous Graphs Ignore C&D Waste Add another 1 lb per capita per day to Vermonts waste Add another 1 lb per capita per day to Vermonts waste Add another 1.5 lbs per capita per day to CSWD waste Add another 1.5 lbs per capita per day to CSWD waste C&D waste often includes bulky waste masking actual growth in residential and commercial waste C&D waste often includes bulky waste masking actual growth in residential and commercial waste EPA estimated 2.75 lb per cap in 1996 EPA estimated 2.75 lb per cap in 1996

24 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Oregon Per Capita Waste Generation (Including C&D waste, Oregon DEQ)

25 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Is the Green State of Vermont Worse than the US Average? Maybe, but we are skeptical of US EPA (Franklin) data, especially when used at the State level Maybe, but we are skeptical of US EPA (Franklin) data, especially when used at the State level Our recent data from the State of Delaware shows large discrepancies, especially in critical materials Our recent data from the State of Delaware shows large discrepancies, especially in critical materials

26 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Delaware Comparison 35% less corrugated recycled than reported by Franklin 35% less corrugated recycled than reported by Franklin 10 times more non-bottle plastic than reported by Franklin 10 times more non-bottle plastic than reported by Franklin 4 times more pallets recycled than reported by Franklin 4 times more pallets recycled than reported by Franklin Franklins estimates for asphalt and concrete generation only 35% of what we found Franklins estimates for asphalt and concrete generation only 35% of what we found

27 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Vermonts Waste Composition DSM conducted Vermonts only Waste Composition Study for DEC in 2001 DSM conducted Vermonts only Waste Composition Study for DEC in 2001 Sorted Residential and Commercial Waste Sorted Residential and Commercial Waste Urban/suburban and rural generators Urban/suburban and rural generators Commercial waste by sector Commercial waste by sector

28 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Commercial Waste By Sector (Range % by weight)

29 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Residential Waste (% by weight)

30 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT More Importantly, What Are The Trends in Waste Composition? Package light-weighting continues Package light-weighting continues First thin walled cans, bottles and containers First thin walled cans, bottles and containers Flexible package replaces rigid one (milk sacks, boxed wine) Flexible package replaces rigid one (milk sacks, boxed wine) Substitution of plastic and aseptic for glass Substitution of plastic and aseptic for glass Substitution of boxboard for steel cans Substitution of boxboard for steel cans Light-weighting of durables Light-weighting of durables Less ferrous metal per appliance Less ferrous metal per appliance Substitution of plastics and composites for metal and wood in electronics Substitution of plastics and composites for metal and wood in electronics Change in location of waste generation Change in location of waste generation More food prepared at restaurants, less organic waste at home More food prepared at restaurants, less organic waste at home

31 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Plastic Volume Is Increasing EPA reports plastic was 16.4% of discards by weight in 2005 (0.5% in 1960 and 5% in 1980) EPA reports plastic was 16.4% of discards by weight in 2005 (0.5% in 1960 and 5% in 1980) Recent study in Israel found plastics made up largest volume (nearly half at 46%) of material by into landfills with paper at 15% and corrugated at 13% Recent study in Israel found plastics made up largest volume (nearly half at 46%) of material by into landfills with paper at 15% and corrugated at 13% Recent work in South Africa shows significant differences in the compaction ratios for plastic waste in landfills compared to other materials Recent work in South Africa shows significant differences in the compaction ratios for plastic waste in landfills compared to other materials

32 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Special Wastes Increasing Electronics Electronics New gadgets New gadgets Obsolete electronics Obsolete electronics Computer and cell phone growth Computer and cell phone growth Compact fluorescents (and mercury) Compact fluorescents (and mercury) Bulky wastes with shorter product life Bulky wastes with shorter product life Desire for new furniture and appliances Desire for new furniture and appliances Lower costs and longevity of appliances Lower costs and longevity of appliances

33 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT But we are not seeing Special Wastes in our Waste Composition Studies

34 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Perhaps Most Importantly Proliferation in niche products Proliferation in niche products An entire isle in the supermarket devoted to paper towels and toilet paper An entire isle in the supermarket devoted to paper towels and toilet paper An entire isle devoted to bottled water An entire isle devoted to bottled water An entire isle devoted to snack food An entire isle devoted to snack food The result – huge increases in supermarket square footage and attendant carbon footprint The result – huge increases in supermarket square footage and attendant carbon footprint Heating, cooling, lighting Heating, cooling, lighting

35 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Waste and Carbon Emissions Same struggle we face with reducing carbon output Same struggle we face with reducing carbon output Kyoto – cars increased from 1.3 to 2 million from Kyoto – cars increased from 1.3 to 2 million from Result growth in carbon 8% since 1990 Result growth in carbon 8% since 1990 American citizen averages 21 tons CE per year vs. 4.5 average globally American citizen averages 21 tons CE per year vs. 4.5 average globally 4.5 tons for car, 6.2 for hh electricity use 4.5 tons for car, 6.2 for hh electricity use US totals 6 billion tons of 25 billion globally US totals 6 billion tons of 25 billion globally

36 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Price Signals Value of Recyclables Value of Recyclables We believe that material prices will continue to trend upward resulting in more recycling We believe that material prices will continue to trend upward resulting in more recycling Disposal tip fees rising, but not enough to encourage waste reduction Disposal tip fees rising, but not enough to encourage waste reduction Disposal costs represent only about 30% of a PAYT bag rate of $ $2.50 Disposal costs represent only about 30% of a PAYT bag rate of $ $2.50 Collection/transport a large part of cost (and main contribution to CE in waste industry) Collection/transport a large part of cost (and main contribution to CE in waste industry)

37 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Charting the Course: What should we be measuring? Volume vs. weight? Volume vs. weight? Per capita disposal may not be increasing by weight but by volume Per capita disposal may not be increasing by weight but by volume Landfill costs based on volume available – volume charges send different price signal Landfill costs based on volume available – volume charges send different price signal Recovery rates instead of recycling rates? Recovery rates instead of recycling rates?

38 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What Do We Target? Materials (Producers) Materials (Producers) Generators Generators Behavior Behavior

39 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What Is Baseline Generation? Include materials recycling? Include materials recycling? What should we count in disposal What should we count in disposal With or without C&D With or without C&D Bulky waste accurately accounted Bulky waste accurately accounted Exclude practices such as: Exclude practices such as: Backyard composting Backyard composting Grass clippings left on lawn Grass clippings left on lawn

40 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT What about all Other Wastes? (Washington Dept. of Ecology)

41 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Linking waste reduction with carbon reduction strategies begins to address the entire wasteshed!

42 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Our Suggestions for Waste Prevention Tracking Consider volume Consider volume Include C&D waste Include C&D waste Disaggregate bulky waste and count it Disaggregate bulky waste and count it Dont rely on US EPA data Dont rely on US EPA data Collect capture/recovery rate data Collect capture/recovery rate data Send strong economic signals Send strong economic signals i.e. PAYT i.e. PAYT

43 DSM Environmental Services, Ascutney, VT Most Importantly Use Less Stuff Use Less Stuff Recognize the best things in life arent things! Recognize the best things in life arent things! Enough is enough! Enough is enough!


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