Friday, June 8, 2012

What a Waste: Time to Pick It Up

This is a guest post by Dan Hoornweg of the World Bank on the report written by him and Perinaz Bhada, Adviser of WTERT - India and EEC Research Associate.

Ask any city manager or mayor what their top priority is and you’re likely to get ‘solid waste’ as an answer. You would think in today’s age we would have solved the waste management challenge and moved on to the next slightly more glamorous municipal service. Not so; and more than ever cities now need to pick it up a notch on solid waste management.

Solid waste is still probably the world’s most pressing environmental challenge. In poorer countries, solid waste can use up to more than half of a city’s overall budget; around the world there are more solid waste workers than soldiers; and despite the more than $225 billion spent every year on solid waste, in many low income countries less than half the waste is collected in cities.

This week’s release of What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management highlights the pressing need for better waste management, especially in low-income country cities. Currently cities generate about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste per year. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. The impact is most severe in low-income country cities where management costs are expected to increase more than five-fold. And most low-income cities are already having trouble dealing with today’s waste management challenges, leave alone handling the expected increases.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Collection of Videos on Marine Debris

As most of us already know, 80% of Marine Debris comes from inland sources and 10% from beach picnics [4], both the result of or can be classified as improper waste management. Majority of marine debris is plastic, up to 75%. The rest of the debris is glass, paper and cardboard. [4]

It seems like our friends fighting to stop marine litter/debris seem to be responding very well on the grassroots level and are making good public campaigns. Climate Change and Marine Litter seem to be the most widely known issues arising out of improper waste management globally. Here is a short collection of videos made advocating against marine litter, shortest to the longest:

[1] Plastic Seduction

[2] Rise Above Plastics: Plastics Kill

[3] The Majestic Plastic Bag: A Mockumentary

[4] Marine Litter: Ocean Report

All these videos are posted on Global WTERT Council's Facebook page as we believe that's the stage we can perform before the public.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wood Recycling in US - Difference between USEPA and Columbia - Biocycle Figures

This is an edited version of an email exchange between Mr. Steve Bratkovich of Dovetail Partners Inc.Professor Nickolas Themelis of Global WTERT Council (GWC) and Nora Goldstein of BioCycle Magazine.

Subject: Differences in wood waste and municipal solid waste (MSW) numbers published by the US EPA as Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: Facts and Figures, and the State of Garbage, a bi-annual survey conducted by Columbia University and Biocycle Magazine.

Mr. Bratkovich: The differences you found in MSW generation and management between the EPA/Franklin studies and your study is quite interesting. Also, as someone (a professional forester) engaged in the literature review of this topic I've noticed most forestry-types tend to cite the EPA numbers;
Do you (Columbia or BioCycle) have numbers that break out the wood portion of your study similar to the EPA studies? 

Prof. Themelis (for Columbia Univ.): No, we do not.

Nora Goldstein (for BioCycle): We do not have a more detailed breakdown of wood waste in the MSW stream. One thing we've noted in BioCycle articles is how much woody debris is generated by the severe weather events so many parts of the country have been experiencing in recent years. This can skew numbers, more at the local level, versus the national aggregated numbers.

US EPA's cartoon for their report: Characaterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1996 Update

Mr. Bratkovich: The US EPA (2010) estimates that "wood" comprises 15.88 million tons (generation) out of approx. 249 million tons of MSW. Of this 15.88 million tons, the EPA notes that 2.30 million tons were recovered, resulting in a 14.5% recovery.

Prof. Themelis: The EPA tonnages of recovery of various materials are reliable because they get them from numbers of industry associations, e.g. paper recycling companies. However, their numbers of tonnages of MSW landfilled are not (reliable) because they are not based on recorded tonnages of MSW landfilled, as the Biocycle/Columbia study does.