The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has unveiled its new Data & Policy Report at the 2016 Waste360 Recycling Summit, which is being held in Austin this week. The report, entitled “Municipal Solid Waste Management in the U.S.: 2010 & 2013,” is a bottom-up accounting of the mixed solid waste picture in the U.S., which differs from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top-down model estimates.
The report estimates the U.S. generated 347 million tons of waste in 2013. The EPA estimate, in contrast, was 254 million tons.
Developed as part of its effort to expand its goal of advancing knowledge and education for sustainable materials management, EREF’s Data & Policy program focuses on expanding knowledge and education of the current state of practice, policies and trends in solid waste management.
“The Data & Policy program provides a valuable experience to undergraduate and graduate students who assist in data gathering and analysis,” said EREF CEO Bryan Staley, Ph.D., P.E., in a press release. “After their internship, 80 percent of Data & Policy interns work in solid waste or related sustainability fields.”
This report summarizes the amount of municipal solid waste managed at landfills, waste-to-energy incinerators, composting and recycling facilities in the U.S. For example, EREF identified many more recycling facilities than previously estimated.
Less than half of these recycling facilities are materials recovery facilities (MRFs), and others are smaller and have a low amount of modernized equipment. MRFs tend to process higher volumes than the "non-MRF" facilities EREF surveyed.
EREF also found that 81 percent of waste facilities in the United States do either composting or recycling.
Additionally, EREF found a higher volume of municipal solid waste and a lower recycling rate than what the EPA reports in its annual Facts and Figures report.
Prior to releasing its report in full, EREF presented some of this data in the past, including at last year's Waste360 Recycling Summit.
The report is now available at a price of $185, and all Waste360 Recycling Summit attendees will receive a 15 percent discount.