How To Minimize Municipal and Government Waste
Join cities and government agencies across the country by rethinking waste management strategies. From LA to New York City, cities and surrounding unincorporated communities are taking a second look at their approach to municipal solid waste (MSW) in order to save money, create jobs, and reduce dependency on landfills.
According to the EPA, “In 2014, in the United States, about 258 million tons of MSW were generated. Over 89 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 34.6 percent recycling rate. In addition, over 33 million tons of MSW were combusted with energy recovery and 136 million tons were landfilled.”
Initiatives to minimize municipal and government waste may include a combination of activities that identify ways to keep materials out of the waste stream in the first place as well as ways in which to better manage and minimize the materials that are currently going to landfills.
Key Waste Management & Sustainability Strategy Stops:
- Analyze: Start by assessing and analyzing your existing waste streams. This may include working with your waste management company to track waste volume and contents.
- Make a plan: Work to develop a program that meets your existing waste management needs while striving to reduce waste. Using SMART goals (strategic, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based), revise your preliminary plan to reflect the input of your stakeholders.
- Seek buy-in: Strive to engage, educate, and communicate with your key stakeholders and community members to help ensure your plan’s success. Use a variety of communication channels ranging from email to traditional advertising to social media to inform, educate, and motivate.
- Start with reduce and reuse: Encourage your employees and personnel to minimize use (encourage the use of email over paper memos, double-side all copies, promote the concept of a paperless office, etc…) and to recycle whenever possible.
- Maximize recycling: For materials that can’t be reused, look to recycling. Everything from paper to plastic to food waste and cooking oil can be recycled. Used furniture can be donated to local charities.
- Assess success: Be sure to include measurement as part of your strategy. Use benchmarking, goal-setting, and monitor your bottom-line costs to determine the success of your plan.
Some Ways That Cities are Reducing Municipal Solid Waste
Analyzing, planning, and assessing are key to the success of municipal solid waste management reduction. Consider the following ways in which your community can reduce municipal solid waste:
Conducting MSW Audits
Conducting audits of waste streams help cities determine what kind of material is heading to landfills and how they can better manage waste.
Enhancing and Expanding Recycling Services
Developing, enhancing, and promoting existing recycling services increases participation by making it easy, convenient, and accessible. Converting to single stream recycling that includes paper, all types of plastic and glass minimizes confusion and maximizes buy-in.
Developing New Purchasing Strategies
Developing new purchasing strategies that include office supplies with recycled content, replacing single-use items like bottled water with water dispensers, plastic bags with paper, and or individually-wrapped utensils with dispensers all minimize waste.
Encouraging Office Recycling
Provide workers with recycling bins as well as trash cans.
Developing and Implementing Reuse Programs for Resident
Creatively reusing waste is a great way to prevent it from entering waste streams in the first place! Opening city-sponsored “ReStores” encourages reuse while generating income.
Eliminating Unlimited Garbage Pick-up
Charging residents a fee for garbage dumpsters while providing free recycling bins encourages recycling.
Reducing Food Waste
Encourage residents to compost by offering free or low-cost composting units, develop ways for large employers and organizations to donate food to local foodbanks.
Increasing Diversion Requirement
By increasing the diversion requirements on construction and demolition debris, cities can promote salvaging and reuse while lessening landfill dependency.
Supporting Historic Preservation
Adaptive reuse encourages cities to move forward while respecting local history
Offering incentives to corporations, schools, and hospitals for recycling can help attract new businesses and foster a business-friendly environment.
Collaborating on Waste Management
Working with neighboring cities, agencies, and green businesses to pool resources can reduce programming costs.
For more information about minimizing municipal and government waste, download our free “Minimizing Municipal and Government Waste” today! To schedule a waste stream audit or arrange for recycling or waste removal services, contact PBS Services.