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The United States Generates More Waste Than Estimated
International, 10/6/2015

According to a new study, Americans generate twice more trash than calculated by the federal government.

On average, Americans generate 2.25 kilograms of waste per person per day. The study is based on the measures taken in the dumps and not on government estimates.

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based those calculations to determine how much waste is sent to landfills. But in 2010, the agency required that most municipal landfills would measure and report the figures, as part of an effort to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas. Researchers at Yale University reviewed the records of more than 200 thousand bins and calculated the figures, especially on a weight basis.

According to a study published in Nature Climate Change magazine, They calculated that in 2012, the total waste was 289 million tons,. For the same year, the EPA estimated 135 million tons.

Jon Powell, of the Center for Industrial Ecology at Yale, said the amount is different because of the way the calculations were made: the numbers used were of the actual measurements instead of calculating what the businesses indirectly told the government. The study was partially funded by EPA.

If Powell’s data is correct, US residents are not recycling as much as the authorities think. The EPA estimated that in 2012 people recycled 34.5% of their waste, but if the amount of garbage data agrees with Powell, the recycling rate would be 21.4%. But Powell warned that the data could not agree too much.

According to Kinnanan, Americans do not seem to be generating more waste than other cultures. And not all waste comes from households. Powell indicated that the sample may not be nationally representative; revealing that 12.8% of the material that reached the landfills was construction and demolition material.



Topic(s):    Environmental management