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[GreenYes] RE: income/wealth effects on waste generation
Regarding Wayne Turner's request for information on 
effects of income and wealth (as measured by 
household property value) on waste generation rates, 
there are preliminary results for King County, WA 
cities described in my newsletter for Sept and Oct 
1999 available online at zerowaste.com. The results 
are preliminary in that we are currently conducting 
a solid waste collection efficiency study involving 
all cities and unincorporated areas in King County 
as part of the organics collection pilots that we 
are assisting the County with. The current study is 
gathering more precise data on important variables 
such as yard size (lot size minus house footprint, 
etc. ) that need to be held constant to accurately 
measure impacts of income and wealth.

The previous study detailed in those two issues of 
The Monthly UnEconomist does point out how income 
and wealth have significant impacts on garbage and 
recycling generation and management behavior. For 
example, higher income households generate more 
garbage and also buy more garbage collection 
services, for example, by subscribing for additional 
or bigger cans or carts. As a result it is not 
obvious whether higher income households will put 
more garbage in each can (i.e., increased density). 

Wealthier households, on the other hand, definitely 
choose more cans over heavier cans. Whether this is 
because wealth is a better measure of permanent 
(long term) income than is annual income (which can 
fluctuate substantially from year to year and thus 
be far away from long term average income in any 
given year), or this is because wealth is highly 
correlated with age and the desire to have lighter 
cans to move around, is hard to say.

Lisa Skumatz also has some results, I believe, on 
income's impact on garbage generation. Check out her 
webiste which is at sera.com I believe. 

Results on our current study should be available by 
end of this year or early next year. The current 
study will also include an analysis of several 
different configurations for organics collection - 
e.g., alternating week organics and garbage 
collections versus weekly collections of both 
streams.

Dr. Jeffrey Morris
Sound Resource Management - Bellingham Office
112 Ohio Street, Suite 202
Bellingham, WA 98225

360-738-0255
www.soundresource.com or www.zerowaste.com
jeff.morris@zerowaste.com 
                   
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