Worcester Solid Waste Reduction

“A Perfect Storm–of Garbage”

We’ve been saying for a while that there’s a trash crisis in the U.S., with excess garbage putting the environment at risk and draining municipal coffers. It’s why we’re so committed to cutting waste and increasing recycling. And now a television news program out of Boston has come to the same conclusion.

The program, Chroniclededicated all of last night’s episode to the subject (which it called “a perfect storm–of garbage”). You can view the first segment of the episode here: http://www.wcvb.com/chronicle/chronicle-trash-talk-bay-state-garbage-could-fill-fenway-park-75-times-a-year/38922270

Here are some figures from the first segment of the show that drive home the truly immense magnitude of the trash crisis:

  • All the trash in Massachusetts could fill Fenway Park 75 times each year.
  • Fully 50% of what Massachusetts residents send to landfills and waste incinerators each year is actually recyclable.
  • Those materials would be worth $150 million annually if recycled, but the Bay State spends $160 million instead to dump, burn, or export them.

So, what to do?

The Chronicle story suggests that one of the best options is pay-as-you-throw–which WasteZero’s Stephen Lisauskas, interviewed on the program, calls “the gold standard” for waste reduction.

Photo of Stephen Lisauskas courtesy of Chronicle

Photo of Stephen Lisauskas courtesy of Chronicle

The 22-year-old pay-as-you-throw program in the city of Worcester, Mass., profiled in the episode, would seem to bear that judgment out. As the show explains, Worcester now throws away 55% less trash than they did before PAYT, and they have an impressive 40% recycling rate. What’s more, their pay-as-you-throw program has had a $94.5 million financial impact.

Worcester Solid Waste Reduction

Photo Courtesy of Chronicle

It may look like we’re in a perfect storm of garbage, but as Worcester and other cities demonstrate, there is a proven path to calmer seas.

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