Publications / Solid Waste
In October 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 34, modifying the California Integrated Waste Management Act and establishing a policy goal that “75 percent of solid waste generated be source reduced, recycled, or composted by the year 2020.” Recognizing the significant benefits that an effectively implemented AB 341 holds for waste diversion, ecosystem protection, materials management practices, and economic growth in California, NRDC commissioned Tellus Institute to assess the job creation potential of meeting the 75 percent recycling goal by 2020.
This study provides strong evidence that an enhanced national recycling and composting strategy in the United States can significantly and sustainably address critical national priorities including climate change, lasting job creation, and improved health. Achieving a 75 percent diversion rate for municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) by 2030 would result in a total of 2.3 million jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, less pollution overall, and unquantified benefits of reducing ecological pressures associated with the use of non-renewable resources.
In the context of mounting environmental challenges, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is currently reviewing the Solid Waste Master Plan: 2006 Revision, the key document summarizing the Commonwealth’s waste reduction and management strategy. This report provides the Department with background information that will inform the development of a new Master Plan, one that lays the groundwork for shifting to a “materials management” framework. In particular, it focuses on the life-cycle impacts of various approaches for materials and solid waste management, including recycling, composting, landfilling, and waste-to-energy incineration, plus the emerging technologies of gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion.
This chapter discusses a range of arrangements and concerns associated with waste management in developing nations. The first three sections provide general background, discuss the standard form of privatization, and introduce an alternative. The fourth section introduces the base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) approach and explains how it provides a framework within which the two apparently antagonistic approaches—standard privatization and the sustainable alternative—can be combined. The final two sections describe the combination and explain how it addresses past failures and problems. The final section also provides a brief general discussion of sustainability in the BoP context.
Originally published in Prabhu Kandachar and Minna Halme, eds., Sustainability Challenges and Solutions at the Base of the Pyramid (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 2008).
This report focuses on what the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) needs to do between now and 2010 to reach the waste reduction goals articulated in Beyond 2000 Solid Waste Master Plan — A Policy Framework, its plan and vision for managing solid waste over the coming decade. The project includes an assessment of the best strategies to reduce waste at its source and increase participation in existing programs. It also identifies the most critical areas to expand recycling and composting access and infrastructure to move toward the 70% waste reduction goal. As such, this report is intended to provide a recommended roadmap for reaching this goal, identifying the sectors of the waste stream to target, the additional quantities of waste reduction that can be achieved in each sector, the strategies necessary to achieve these reductions, and the resource allocations required.
Source reduction, also often called “waste prevention,” is defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “any change in the design, manufacturing, purchase, or use of materials or products (including packaging) to reduce the amount or toxicity before they become municipal solid waste.” This project addresses source reduction in Massachusetts, focusing on three areas: the application of methods developed by Tellus for the US EPA to quantify the aggregate amount of source reduction for MSW generated in Massachusetts; description and quantification of specific source reduction efforts, such as backyard composting, in Massachusetts; and identification and documentation of successful source reduction programs or efforts implemented elsewhere which might be appropriate for adoption in Massachusetts.