Solid Waste Collection Lab
- Quantify and analyze household solid waste
- Propose general strategies for reduction and recycling
The problems associate with the disposal of solid waste( e.g., plastics, metals, glass) are becoming increasingly critical and
complex. Sites suitable for solid waste disposal are becoming scarce in many communities the problem of solid waste disposal
is so acute that mandatory recycling programs have been implemented.
In the United States in 1970, each person generated on average 2 .3 kilograms (3.3 lbs) of solid waste per day-or over 553
kilograms( 1,220 lbs) per year. By 1990, these numbers had grown to 2.3 kilograms( 5 lbs) of solid waste day - or over825
kilograms (1,825 lbs) per year. This amounts to some 250 million metric tons of solid waste produced by the U.S. alone each
year. The rate of per capita production of solid waste increased 50% in the past twenty years while U.S. population has
increased only 20% in the same time interval.
These data beg the questions: Why has the rate of solid waste production increased so dramatically? Where does it all go?
Recall the plight of the barge Mobro, which in 1987, traveled some 6,000 miles in 164 days looking for a port that would
permit it to unload its cargo of,2,900 metric tons of solid waste picked up from Islip, Long Island. After being refused at every
port, Mobro returned to New York City where it was barred from docking. After remaining in the harbor for four months its
garbage was incinerated in Brooklyn leaving 364 metric tons of ash, which was buried in a local landfill. The publicity resulting
from this event catalyzed the community of Islip into developing a recycling program, and by 1989, the town was recycling
35% of its solid waste - a program which has saved the community $ 2 million a year and extended the life of the landfill.
One way each individual can help to decrease the severity of this growing problem is to become personally aware of the
amount of solid waste each of us produces and, as a result, be more conscientious of our contribution to both the problem and
solution. The purpose of this laboratory exercise is to provide students the opportunity to become aware of the amount of
solid waste generated by an individual or family, as well as the degree to which this amount can be reduced by recycling.
1) Over the course of one day , keep an inventory of all solid waste items disposed of. Record the amounts in Table 1 on
the data sheet and estimate the volume of each item.
2) If there are multiple members of the household, determine the total solid waste per day per person. Record this data
in Table I on the data sheet.
Item: Estimated Volume Can it be recycled? Did you recycle it?
Volume of garbage per household per day________________
1) Which materials had the greatest volume? List them in decreasing order by volume.
2) Estimate what percentage of your waste is from redundant packaging.
3) What percent of your waste could be recycled?
4) How can you reduce the amount of waste that cannot be recycled?
5) Describe three effects of landfills on the environment. Are these all harmful? Explain.
6) How does the Tragedy of the Commons exemplify the problem of household waste disposal?
7) Outline two economic incentives from government to encourage recycling waste.
8) Design a similar experiment. (dependent variables, independent variables, methods)