Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
The Environmental Protection Agency may begin including construction and demolition materials when it measures the total amount of municipal solid waste generated in the United States.
The agency may also shift from using a modeling approach to using another measurement approach, the agency said in a notice scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Aug. 2.
The agency will accept public comment until Aug. 31 on the possible changes. EPA is seeking to make the changes to provide a more comprehensive view of the waste stream in the United States.
EPA estimates the amounts of municipal solid waste that is recycled, incinerated, and landfilled in an annual report, Municipal Solid Waste in the United States.
The current report mainly covers household waste, including packaging, food scraps, and grass clippings, but the agency may begin including construction and demolition materials, industrial materials, and automotive waste.
Ed Repa, director of environmental programs at the National Solid Wastes Management Association, said it would be helpful for EPA to include information about industrial waste going into municipal solid waste landfills, because it has been difficult to obtain the data from individual states.
Ted Michaels, president of the Energy Recovery Council, a trade organization, said including construction materials in the municipal solid waste numbers could be problematic, because doing so could cause an artificial bump in recycling rates. Rates for recycling construction and demolition materials are higher than household wastes, he said.
Michaels said EPA's current modeling approach has caused the agency to vastly underestimate the total amount of municipal solid waste generated.
The current report is generated by modeling using data gathered by the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, and trade associations.
EPA uses manufacturing data to estimate the amount of waste that will end up in a landfill, which leaves out certain types of waste that are not manufactured, such as yard clippings, Michaels said.
He proposed that EPA use data obtained from surveying landfills, check it against data submitted by facility owners to states, and then use a third-party auditor.
Repa also said EPA should survey facilities to obtain data. “These facilities all know what they have,” he said.
The municipal solid waste report was designed to give American consumers an estimate of how much waste was generated in their households and to help them understand the composition of that waste, according to Jim Thompson, president of Waste Business Journal, a research and consulting firm.
He said refining the EPA report would provide an accurate view of the market share held by waste companies, such as Waste Management. “If we're undercounting the amount of waste in the market, it makes their share look a lot bigger,” Thompson said. He said the data would aid in mergers or consolidations.
Additionally, Thompson said, there are new markets for segments of the waste stream, such as tires, yard waste, electronics, and food waste. “We should really get the numbers right if we are going to accommodate all those recycled items,” Thompson said. ”It gets more and more important to know what you have to deal with in the first place.”
Comments on methods for measuring materials for the municipal solid waste report may be submitted at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2011-0178.
By Avery Fellow
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)