Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
MSWŚmore commonly known as trash or garbageŚconsists of everyday items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries.
In 2006, US residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 251 million tons of MSW, which is approximately 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day.
Several MSW management practices, such as source reduction, recycling, and composting, prevent or divert materials from the wastestream. Source reduction involves altering the design, manufacture, or use of products and materials to reduce the amount and toxicity of what gets thrown away. Recycling diverts items, such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals, from the wastestream. These materials are sorted, collected, and processed and then manufactured, sold, and bought as new products. Composting decomposes organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, with microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi), producing a humus-like substance.
Other practices address those materials that require disposal. Landfills are engineered areas where waste is placed into the land. Landfills usually have liner systems and other safeguards to prevent groundwater contamination. Combustion is another MSW practice that has helped reduce the amount of landfill space needed. Combustion facilities burn MSW at a high temperature, reducing waste volume and generating electricity.
Solid Waste Hierarchy
EPA has ranked the most environmentally sound strategies for MSW. Source reduction (including reuse) is the most preferred method, followed by recycling and composting, and, lastly, disposal in combustion facilities and landfills.
Currently, in the United States, 32.5 percent is recovered and recycled or composted, 12.5 percent is burned at combustion facilities, and the remaining 55 percent is disposed of in landfills.
What Can You Save Today?
EPA and the City of Turlock are challenging all citizens to conserve our natural resources and save energy by committing ourselves to:
Reduce more waste;
Reuse and recycle more products; and
Buy more recycled and recyclable products.
To help you get started here are some helpful tips:
- Reduce Your Packaging: Buy bulk or concentrated products when you can.
- Reduce Toxicity or Learn How: Recycle your batteries and use batteries with reduced mercury.
- Select Reusable Products: Sturdy, washable utensils, tableware, cloth napkins, and dishcloths can be used many times.
- Use Durable Products: Choose furniture, sports equipment, toys, and tools that will stand the test of time.
- Reuse Products: Reuse newspaper, boxes, shipping "peanuts," and "bubble wrap" to ship packages.
- Recycle Automotive Products: Take car batteries, antifreeze, and motor oil to participating recycling centers.
- Buy Products Made From Recycled Material: Many bottles, cans, cereal boxes, containers, and cartons are made from recycled material.
- Compost or Learn How: Food scraps and yard waste can become natural soil conditioners.
*Source: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/specials/funfacts/index.htm (US Environmental Protection Agency)