According to the EPA in 2010 each person in the US put out Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)- popularly known as garbage/trash equal to 4.43 lb or over 2 kilos per day. If you look at the number of garbage cans on the weekly trash collection days- you know that the number has not decreased and the volume of garbage has gone up. The time is therefore appropriate to look at possibilities of innovation in the upstream supply chain that leads to these very large quantities of garbage. See the 2010 estimates of the composition of trash from the EPA and here are some innovation possibilities with respect to each component of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW):
- Organic content: Includes yard trimmings and food scrap that is over 27%. Innovations could include proper disposal of yard trimmings like grass and leaves that need to be put out in paper bags. Food waste at about 14 % works out to 35 million tons and is really a waste given the poverty in the US itself. Awareness and smaller portions might be the answer. The disposal of food scrap in bio-degradable bags is an innovation whose time has come.
- Paper and Paper-Board is about 28% and recycling is possible if consumers are more alert about segregating these items. Reducing outer packaging in the upstream supply chain and dealing with plastic coated paper board is an ongoing challenge and avenues for innovation.
- Plastics, Metal and Rubber are about a third and here again education is required in disposal by consumers. In the US, San Francisco has banned the plastic bag and Delhi, India has banned plastic bags and plastics are seen as villians in sustainability. Plastics are great - it’s just that the municipal systems and individuals they serve do not have clear systems to deal with plastics. For example although towns have occasional solid waste collection days - most people seem to throw out their metal and glass waste in the trash.
In other words, there is a lot of innovation opportunity both at the municipal garbage disposal and re-cycling end and reducing waste at the consumer and upstream supply chain. Contact StratoServe.