Whether at home or work, we all generate waste via the consumption of goods and services. Best case, we either reuse or recycle our waste. As a last resort, our waste is sent to landfill via truck and rail via inter-modal transport. Our waste here in the Seattle area is sent to landfills in Eastern Washington or Oregon in areas with available space and dryer climates favoring less opportunity for ground water contamination.
In a previous blog posting, Rethinking Your Packaging we detailed that packaging represents 75 Million Tons or 35% of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream in the US. While we currently recycle approximately half (49%) of the waste, the remainder (51%) of the waste is diverted to landfill.
In a recent interview on American Public Media’s American Marketplace, Bloomberg Economist, Michael McDonough presented his perspective on Tracking the Economy and GDP Through Trash. He studied the relationship between railcard loads of trash and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Turns out that there is a close correlation between the two. Simply put…. Higher levels of waste are generated when more stuff is purchased. Recent downturns in the waste hauled to landfill is concerning regarding the near term direction of the overall US economy.
Data such as this can help drive your strategic decisions. Does your organization currently track solid waste volumes? If so, do you report this data by type (i.e. industrial scrap, packaging, refuse) and disposition (i.e. reuse, recycling, disposal)? How can you use this data to change your purchasing decisions and strategic direction?
It has been said that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Here’s to rethinking your trash as opportunity to improve your operations and bottom line.