Waste composition studies

Marjorie J. Clarke (mclarke@shiva.hunter.cuny.edu)
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:56:11 -0500

It was asked:

>Maybe someone could explain something I've always wondered: why doesn't it
>make more sense to determine the composition of waste by looking at SALES of
>the materials, rather than through waste comp studies.
>But I also seem to remember a very old publication by the EPA that talked
>about the "materials flow methodology" where sales figures are factored in
>with life-expectancy of the item, in order to arrive at what seems like much
>more meaningful end results.

As far as I know, Franklin Associates, LTD have been doing this sort of
analysis for decades for USEPA on a national basis. They issue their
results (annually now), not only in terms of all the recyclables in the
waste stream, but separately in terms of products, packaging and organics
in the waste stream. Last I'd seen, organics were on the order of 20-25%
(food and yard), durable products were 14%, nondurables were almost 30% and
packaging a similar number. They break these larger categories into
smaller ones as well -- all based on purchases.
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Marjorie J. Clarke Environmental Scientist and Consultant
Address: mclarke@shiva.hunter.cuny.edu
New York City Phone & Fax: 212-567-8272