Category Archives: Garbage

Michigan use of state’s landfills continues decline; Canadian imports up

Read the full post at Great Lakes Echo.

Despite a slight increase in Michigan’s population, 2013 witnessed a decline of 0.5 percent in solid waste generated in the state, continuing a 10-year  trend, according to a report by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

And the state still has almost three decades’ worth of landfill capacity, the report said.

Waste imported from other states and Canada increased by more than 8 percent.

Canada is the largest source of imported trash, accounting for about 17 percent of the total waste landfilled in Michigan last year, according to the report.

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Garbage, Great Lakes, Publications


Falconer at the Tajiguas Landfill

Did you know that some landfills have falconers? I didn’t either. Watch a video about the falconer at the Tajiguas Landfill here.

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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Garbage, Video


New 3D Visuals Simplify Waste Sorting

Read the full story from the University of Washington.

Sorting your waste at UW is now a little clearer with 3-D visuals showing ideal disposal. The new visuals, located in the HUB and By George Café, aim to simplify waste disposal on campus and encourage greater composting and recycling. UW Sustainability led the project in partnership with the UW Garbology Project, UW Housing and Food Services, and UW Recycling.

The visuals are made from waste bins cut in half and filled with items commonly disposed of on campus. A set of three visuals (compost, recycling, landfill) each show items sorted into the correct bins. This cross-section approach proved to have an improved impact on waste sorting behaviour in a two-month study conducted by the UW Garbology Project.


Take Some Trash Pictures For This Instagram-Based Litter Location Platform

Read the full story in Fast Company.

The Litterati project encourages people to take pictures of stray trash, hashtag it, and then toss it in the trash. Now, it’s the biggest trash database in the world.

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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Art, Behavior change, Garbage


Minnesota garbage study offers ‘wake up call,’ pollution control agency head says

Read the full story from MPR News.

Food waste and other organic material made up nearly a third of what Minnesotans sent to landfills in 2012, according to a new study state officials released Monday.

The Waste Composition Report, released by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, found that organics accounted for 31 percent of the waste stream; 25 percent of the waste stream was paper and 18 percent was plastic. A category called “other wastes,” which includes things like furniture, appliances and carpet, also accounted for 18 percent, and metal, glass and electronics were in the single digits.

The last time the MPCA conducted such a study was in 2000. Since then, plastic has made up a bigger part of the waste stream, but the percentage of paper being thrown away has decreased, likely because there are fewer newspapers, the study concluded.

Still, Minnesotans are throwing away about a million tons of recyclable materials in a year that are worth about $217 million, the report said.

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Garbage, Great Lakes, Publications


The demographics of garbage: What are Minnesotans really throwing away?

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is releasing a waste composition report today, which highlights trends of recycling in Minnesota. Some key findings:

  • The amount of plastic thrown away has increased from 11 percent of the waste stream to 18 percent since 2000.
  • Paper in the waste stream has decreased from 34 percent to 25 percent, likely due to decreased printing of newspapers.
  • Twelve thousand tons, or 24 million pounds, of aluminum beverage containers were discarded in Minnesota in 2012—the equivalent of 3.6 million aluminum cans per day.
  • Over 543,000 tons (1 billion pounds) of recyclable paper were discarded in Minnesota in 2012.
  • 21,000 tons (41 million pounds) of PET beverage container plastic were discarded in 2012.
  • Organics (food) accounts for 31 percent of the waste stream, which is a 21 percent increase from the 2000 study.

The study investigated what Minnesotans are throwing into the garbage and how much. The last waste composition study was completed in 2000. Due to their high cost, waste composition studies are not conducted regularly, but they do provide valuable information for the MPCA’s solid waste programs.  Data from this study will be used to target recyclable materials that are being thrown away in large quantities and promote increased efforts at recycling.

The 2013 waste composition study indicates there is less paper and less glass in the waste stream, but more plastic and more food waste. This speaks to the need to find a way to recycle more types of plastics, and to establish more organics collection opportunities to handle the large amount of food waste that is being thrown away.

“The organics information is the most obvious issue we can, and will, address with more organics recycling and composting,” the MPCA’s Peder Sandhei said. “There are many findings to discuss and strategize to improve from this report, but the main point is that we’re discarding valuable resources, and jobs are lost with every garbage truck that’s emptied.”

The study also shows that Minnesotans are discarding a large amount of material that is currently recyclable — material that can be used to create jobs in the local economy. Some of the Minnesota companies that make or produce products out of recycled material are Rock-Tenn in St. Paul; Bedford Technology in Worthington; By The Yard in Jordan; Master Mark in Paynesville; Liberty Paper in Becker; New Page in Duluth; and Gerdeau Ameristeel in South St. Paul.

“This report is a wake-up call. Minnesotans take great pride in environmental stewardship, but these numbers suggest we’re not living up to our reputation,” John Linc Stine, commissioner of the MPCA, said. “The amount of plastic and aluminum we’re still seeing going to the landfill is much more than a lost environmental opportunity: it’s a lost economic opportunity as well. We are literally throwing away valuable resources that fuel jobs and economic activity; we’re burying opportunity in landfills.”

When material is taken out of the waste stream, jobs are created. Recycling benefits the economy by:

  • Creating jobs: approximately 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are directly and indirectly supported by the recycling industry. These jobs pay an estimated $1.96 billion in wages and add nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota’s economy.
  • Generating profit: our recyclable material has tremendous economic value. In 2010, Minnesota recycling programs collected about 2.5 million tons of material worth $690 million.
  • Saving money: it cost Minnesota over $200 million to throw away 1 million tons of recyclable material in 2010. Instead, this waste could easily have been recycled for an additional estimated value of $217 million.

For more information and a copy of the report, go to

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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Garbage, Publications


‘Toxic bomb’ ticks on Maldives rubbish island

Read the full story at

Descending by plane into the Maldives offers a panoramic view of azure seas and coral-fringed islands, but as the tarmac nears, billowing smoke in the middle distance reveals an environmental calamity.

Thilafushi Island, a half-hour boat trip from the capital, is surrounded by the same crystal clear waters and white sand that have made the Indian Ocean archipelago a honeymoon destination for the rich and famous.

But no holidaymaker sets foot here and none could imagine from their plane seats that the rising smoke is the waste from residents and previous visitors being set alight by men like 40-year-old Fusin.

A migrant from Bangladesh, he is one of several dozen employees on “Rubbish Island”—the biggest waste dump in the country where he’s paid $350 a month for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Garbage


How Edmonton is Finding Value in Its Waste Stream

Read the full story in Governing.

A growing volume of waste has long been viewed as a natural consequence of industrializing society. Unfortunately, we also have grown accustomed to disposing of most of what touches our lives, resulting in the challenge of managing vast quantities of municipal waste.

Edmonton, Alberta, facing the familiar problem of dwindling landfill capacity, has set what many might consider an impossible goal: diverting 90 percent of its waste from its landfills. As much of a stretch as that might seem, Edmonton already had a diversion rate of 60 percent, thanks in large part to a major composting facility completed in 2001 — an already enviable figure in a province with an average residential waste-diversion rate of 29 percent.

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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Garbage, Local government


Bakersfield’s Creative Solution for Trash-Littered Freeways

Bakersfield’s public-works department creatively engaged the local community to find a sustainable solution to a growing roadside-litter problem. Governing has the story.

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Garbage, Local government


PSU waste sort reveals opportunities

Read the full story from Portland State University. You can also download the full report.

With the goal of providing recommendations for improving waste diversion and reduction efforts on campus, university staff sorted through 690 pounds of campus garbage to find out what portion of materials could have been diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting, or avoided altogether by using durable goods. Recommendations to lower the percentage of materials that could have been composted (35 percent) and recycled (13 percent) include increased collection and education, enhanced recycling infrastructure and signage, and replacing restroom paper towels with efficient air hand driers.


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