Organic waste such as paper, food scraps, and yard trimmings make up the bulk of the U.S. municipal solid waste (msw) stream. As of 2014 — the last year for which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides statistics — the combination of paper, wood, yard waste, and food scraps made up 61 percent of the total MSW we generated in the United States.
When a natural disaster strikes, organic materials management is nowhere near the first priority. Once residents are safely accounted for and the situation stabilizes, though, the cleanup process begins. This is when response teams face a difficult question: What is the best way to dispose of post-disaster debris?
The EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM) is an indispensable tool for municipal leaders, waste-management professionals, environmental engineers, and other stakeholders in localized sustainable materials management systems. More to the point, WARM helps decision-makers predict the strategies that most reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Restaurant composting hasn't yet caught on everywhere. Foodservice operations in the U.S. remain major contributors to the nation's burden of food waste. Statistics from the nonprofit ReFED, which works to reduce these losses, reveal the scope of the problem. Of the 25 million tons of food waste generated by business-to-consumer companies, restaurants are responsible for 11.4 million. The financial value of annual food waste in the foodservice industry tops $25 billion.
Thanks to a growing coalition of green businesses, grassroots advocates, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), building deconstruction — as opposed to unsustainable demolition practices — could be coming to your community sometime soon. Here's what you need to know, whether you're a sustainability expert or just discovering this green alternative to landfilling demolition debris.
The use of lithium batteries to power our ever-shrinking electronics is growing at a rate of 1.63 batteries per person, per year, reports recycling service RRS. Increasingly, these lightweight, power-dense batteries power everything from our phones to our cars. One report projected a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent in the lithium-battery market by 2021.
Air pollution causes cancer, bronchitis, and other major health problems while exacerbating existing conditions like asthma, making clean air a crucial public health issue. The World Health Organization estimates that three million people die prematurely from poor air quality worldwide. Air pollution also harms the environment through acid rain, particulate soot, and other harmful pollutants.
Food production equipment sanitation is serious business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people, hospitalize 128,000, and, tragically, kill 3,000. With numbers like those, it's easy to see why the government is doing everything it can to prevent the spread of bacterial and viral infections via food.
The global recycling market is changing rapidly, and that can leave municipal plastic recycling programs struggling to find enough end users to stay in business. More than ever, post-consumer plastics are competing with virgin resins. This, in turn, is placing new pressures on materials recovery facilities (MRF) and the municipalities that hire them to produce pristine bales of reclaimed plastics; high levels of contamination are no longer acceptable.
China's changing national policy on raw recycling imports is creating serious new challenges in the U.S. recyclables market. Bales of paper and plastic scrap, which would typically already be on ships bound to China's many recycling processors, are now building up in stockpiles across the United States. Materials recovery facilities (MRFs) are on a desperate hunt for new end users.