Author(s): Kaufman SM, Themelis NJ
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Abstract Although there are a myriad of sources of municipal solid waste (MSW) data in the United States, much of these data are not transparent and are also extremely difficult to find. In addition, the two major methods of quantifying national MSW flows-the BioCycle State of Garbage in America and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Franklin Associates' MSW "Facts and Figures" report-differ greatly in their reported results. This study, sponsored by EPA Region 9 and concentrating on the state of California, shows how an improved method of MSW measurement can be built upon the foundation provided by the State of Garbage in America (SOG) survey and complemented by an in-depth analysis of state data from various sources within a state. The primary goal of this methodology is to provide reliable, transparent, tonnage-based, and readily available MSW data for use by policy-makers, MSW managers, and the general public. California was used as the starting point because of the high volume of data available for that state, as well as the controversy surrounding its unusual method of collecting and reporting recycling rates. Also, because of California's size, its recycling tonnage has a large effect on overall U.S. national figures. It is therefore important to accurately quantify MSW management there. Results show that EPA underestimates U.S. MSW generation rates by a significant amount and that the methodology presented produces consistent and replicable results across different states.
This article was published in J Air Waste Manag Assoc
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering