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Big Diversions

In early March, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had set a goal of a statewide landfill diversion rate of 50 percent. In 2007, the last year for which such statistics are available, Ohio's diversion rate was 40.7 percent. The state's highest diversion rate — nearly 45 percent — occurred in 2002 (for more on this goal, see "Oh Ohio"). Earlier this year, the state of Florida announced that it was embarking on an even mightier task: raising the statewide recycling rate from its current 28 percent to 75 percent by 2020.

Once seemingly the sole province of California communities, ambitious recycling goals have spread throughout the country. Austin, Texas, has adopted a zero-waste goal, and even Waste Age's hometown of Atlanta is formulating some aggressive diversion plans. According to this month's profile of the city's solid waste operations ("Naught 'Lanta"), Atlanta could soon announce a goal of reducing the amount of waste that it sends to landfills by 75 percent.

Big recycling goals also are becoming popular among major retailers. As explained in Waste Age's December 2009 cover story ("A Ton of Changes"), Wal-Mart is aiming to eventually send no waste to landfills. In 2008, according to the story, the retail chain diverted more than 57 percent of its waste from landfills.

What do all of these zero waste and other aggressive recycling efforts mean? Well, in a Q&A that appears in this month's Waste Age ("Finger on the Pulse"), EIA President and CEO Bruce Parker says, "The waste industry is in the early stage of a major transformative change … 'zero waste' … is the change agent."

"The industry's challenge is to develop new business models, technology and resources in response to this change," Parker adds later in the interview.

Strong words, but ones that seem right on the money. It looks as though a new era of solid waste management could be beginning. Count on Waste Age and WasteAge.com to cover these transformations every step of the way.

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