The Big Picture
SMMP Credit: Regular Waste Characterization
and Generation Study Policy
(2 Points, Reciprocal)
The Regular Waste Characterization and Generation Study Policy is intended to set an outline for the proper collection of data that supports and provides evidence showing the success of the sustainable materials management programs. For many reasons, it is extremely important to collect this data in an efficient and organized manner.
Proper collection of this data will result in higher levels of efficiency. Introducing this policy will allow you to evaluate the characteristics of your waste through waste characterization and generation studies in order to best develop sustainable materials management programs.
(Via RE-TRAC forms, audits, or surveys conducted by colleges of universities)
|Local Governments & Industry Leaders
Case Study & Benefits
California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery or CalRecycle took a similar approach in characterizing their waste. Their 2014 study, which included nearly 1,000 local businesses, was deemed to be the country’s most accurate study regarding waste characterization. This study can be used for helping businesses devise strategies to reduce waste and lessen disposal costs, as they can obtain an estimate for what their waste streams are composed of.
Intent and Requirements
To collect up-to-date data to support the development and evaluation of effective and sustainable materials management programs.
Local Government and Industry Requirements
Develop and adopt a policy to regularly collect data on the generation and characterization of all materials collected within the boundary of the Local Government or the Company’s service area, including MSW, Recycled Material, Organic Material and C&D Material.
The Government policy or Company program will reference and require waste characterization and generation studies to follow the SWEEP Guidelines for Waste Characterization and Waste Generation Studies.
At a minimum, the policy must specify that a Comprehensive Waste Characterization Study and a Comprehensive Waste Generation Study be conducted every 7 years, with at least one Waste Characterization Update and one Waste Generation Update either 3 or 4 years between major studies. Numbers should be calculated using verifiable weights wherever possible.
Why We Care
The aim of the Regular Waste Characterization and Generation Study Policy credit is to evaluate the characteristics of our waste through waste characterization and generation studies in order to best develop sustainable materials management programs. By understanding the weight and composition of our waste streams, completing future initiatives to reduce waste can be as effective and cost efficient as possible.
Regular waste characterization and generation studies help us know what exactly our waste stream is composed of. This allows us to create initiatives to most effectively reduce waste, set up efficient source reduction and recycling programs and conserve money and resources. You can’t manage what you don’t measure and waste characterization studies are critical to designing, implementing and sustaining effective waste management.
How to Meet the Requirements
- Utilize Re-TRAC Connect as a data collection platform.
- Evaluate the development and implementation of a verification/certification/audit process.
- Engage colleges and universities to help conduct waste characterization surveys or updates.
SMMP Document showing policy or program elements including:
- The regular collection of data on the generation and characterization of all materials collected within the boundary of the Local Government or the Company’s service area.
- Comprehensive Waste Characterization and a Comprehensive Waste Generation Studies to be conducted every 7 years, with at least one Waste Characterization Update and one Waste Generation Update either 3 or 4 years between major studies.
Case Studies & In-Depth Information
- California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) conducts periodic waste characterization studies
- CalRecycle believes that the 2014 waste characterization study is the most detailed study of business waste streams in the country
- Provides both residential disposal stream data and commercial sector disposal and diversion streams data
- To collect the data, over 800 individual businesses in over 200 jurisdictions participated in the study
- Data collected by taking waste samples, sorting it into different material types, and weighing each type. Samples are collected from trucks taking waste to landfill sites, waste transfer stations, or from individual businesses
- This study can be used for helping businesses devise strategies to reduce waste and lessen disposal costs, as they can obtain an estimate for what their waste streams are composed of.
2018 Waste Characterization Study Details:
- There were 892 waste samples taken from 34 solid waste facilities, which includes both landfills and transfer stations, and 40 apartment complexes.
- The waste disposal was divided into different sectors (commercial, residential – single-family, residential – multi-family, self-haul) for a more thorough analysis of waste breakdown by type of entity.
- Through vehicle surveys and transaction records, they estimated the annual breakdown of materials that each sector disposes of.
- The team performed a total of 40 sampling days. The regions with the most disposed waste had the largest proportion of allocated sampling days.
- They collaborated with waste facilities for coordinating logistics and gaining information on current waste at the plant
- CalRecycle struggled to find enough multi-family properties to participate in the study. Eventually 40 sites were able to participate, and each was sampled once.
- Each materials recovery facility (MRFs) were sampled for two days each. Sampled a variety of facilities, such as mixed waste processors, construction and demolition debris, and single and dual-stream recyclables
- Staff needed two days of training prior to sampling and sorting waste.
- Each sample from self-haul loads weighed less than 400 pounds each and were both visually characterized and hand-sorted
- Visual characterization is done by taking pictures of the sample, measuring dimensions of the waste and recording total volume, noting the major material classes in the load (such as plastic or glass), recording the estimated volume percentage of each material class, and then further breaking down each material class into subcategories for a more detailed recording
- Residential and commercial sector waste samples were roughly 50 pounds each
- At multi-family sites, field staff quantified disposed of waste by recording the volume of disposed waste in dumpsters and the frequency of collection. Samples of at least 200 pounds were taken from dumpsters as well.
- The general calculation strategy for estimating the tonnage of each material type in California’s waste stream involves using ratio estimators and the aggregation of sample data from the regional level to the statewide level.
Comprehensive Waste Characterization Study (and update)
Definition based on CalRecycle Video and Website: A study or audit during which trash samples are collected from landfills or transfer stations to find out which materials make up the waste stream (paper, glass, food waste, etc.). Waste characterization studies can help in planning for waste reduction, setting up recycling programs and conserving money and resources.
Comprehensive Waste Generation Study (and update)
Definition based on CalRecycle Website: A generation study consists of disposal amounts from disposal reports and diversion amounts from a new diversion study. A new generation study compiles the “best available information” to accurately measure a jurisdiction’s diversion efforts.
EPA definition: Municipal solid waste (MSW) (also called trash) consists of everyday items such as product packaging, yard trimmings, furniture, clothing, bottles and cans, food, newspapers, appliances, electronics and batteries. Sources of MSW include residential waste (including waste from multi-family housing) and waste from commercial and institutional locations, such as businesses, schools and hospitals. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) definition of MSW does not include industrial, hazardous or construction and demolition (C&D) waste.
SWANA Definition: Solid Wastes containing carbon compounds that are capable of being biologically degraded, including paper, Food Residuals, wood wastes, Yard Debris and plant wastes but not metals and glass or plastic.
SWANA Definition: Recyclable Material that has been converted into feedstock for use in the manufacture of a new Recycled Product, including containers or packaging.
A web-based software that helps municipalities and companies manage and measure their waste and recycling programs.
Sustainable Materials Management
EPA Definition: “Sustainable materials management (SMM) is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By looking at a product’s entire life cycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs.”