Last night was the Boston Area Sustainability Group meetup regarding the eccentricities of solid waste. It was a fun, inspiring, and educational evening. If you couldn't make it, here is what you missed:
1. "Zero-waste" means no burning or burying at the end of a product's life.
2. "recycling" is a specific process, whereas "zero-waste" is more encompassing of reduce/reuse/repurpose practices.
3. In 2010, each person in Massachusetts produced about 5 million tons of trash.
4. Only a third of all waste is recycled, though most of the rest of it can be recycled/reused/composted.
5. The climate change / waste nexus is complicated and often undiscussed by policy-makers and legislators.
6. Single stream recycling is controversial since the recyclables are of lower value and more likely to be contaminated than in a dual stream recycling system.
7. Recycling rates are lower in urban areas.
8. Recycling can be cheaper for some businesses than traditional trash pickup.
9. Recycling/Repurposing clothing and textiles is easy because there is already infrastructure for in place for processing these materials.
10. "Pay-as-you-throw" systems are very effective, and usually reduce a town's trash by about 40%.
BONUS: Reducing the amount of waste you create is THE most important thing you can do to address the issue of solid waste.