Would it be correct to say that for 100 counties in California over the last decade, solid waste tonnages, population, and gross retail sales tend to stay in sync with each other? Put another way, for most communities, when population and retail sales go up or down together, do solid waste tonnages go up or down more or less with the same volume and velocity?
This would be interesting to know, because in our part of California, the San Francisco Bay Area, waste tonnages for most counties have remained more or less stable for the last thirteen years, since 1995. San Mateo's landfilling decreased .3%; Santa Clara County had no net change. San Francisco and Alameda County volumes have increased .1% and .5%, respectively. Meanwhile, throughout our area both population and retail sales have increased, I believe.
Your experience suggests compost facilities may turn out to be more or less "recession proof". This makes sense, because plants just keep growing and dying without much regard for the vicissitudes of the "real economy". That's a good argument for having compost facilities in every community instead of concentrated on agricultural lands. The tip fees and product sales from compost disposal can then act as a stabilizing force within the local economy.
Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling company in Berkeley, California since 1980
On Oct 29, 2008, at 7:51 AM, Wayne Turner wrote:
Good point Jerry. We own 3 public facilities, one MSW LF, one C&D LF and one Compost facility. All three facilities are large in comparison to other, similar facilities in the state and serve a large metropolitan area of around 250,000 people. Volume declines here apply to the MSW and C&D facilities. The compost facility does not currently show declines from this same time last year.
I have examined 10 years of state solid waste data county by county (100 counties) and compared waste tonnages against both county population and gross retail sales. The difference in the correlation between solid waste tonnages and population vs solid waste tonnages and gross retail sales is negligible. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues through this economic slump. Have other states done similar analyses and found the same trends?
When discussing the effect of current economic problems on waste flows, we need to distinguish between waste types. The publicly traded waste haulers are reporting more severe drop offs in waste volumes from their C&D customers than they report declines from commercial and residential sources. Thus, when a landfill reports a decline, we need to know the types of waste handled at the facility. That said, the history of waste flows during recessions shows a decline typically occurs.
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