Indicator EN.1.d Solid waste disposal and diversion

Cities


Descriptive Title: Annual per capita solid waste disposal and solid waste recycled or composed

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

The impacts of solid waste on health relate indirectly to: 1) the use of environmental resources expended in the production of waste, and 2) the externalities related to waste disposal and waste management. Nearly all solid waste represents used commodities that required energy and other environmental resources to produce. The inappropriate storage and disposal of organic waste can attract rodents and insects, which may increase the frequency of gastro-intestinal and parasitic diseases. Illegal waste disposal can also impact water, waste water and storm water systems. Space that is used for waste disposal (i.e., landfills) uses land that can be used for other purposes. The ability to divert waste reduces the need of natural resource extraction, conserves energy and reduces emissions associated with new production and transport. Diverting waste can reduce groundwater contamination from landfills and toxic air emissions from incineration.

After source reduction (or reducing the amount of waste produced), recycling and composting are the preferred waste management options of integrated solid waste management techniques. Recycling and composting helps reduce potential risks to human health and the environment, conserve energy, slow depletion of nonrenewable natural resources and diverts waste from landfills and incinerators.

Methods

Waste disposal data can be retrieved from the state agency that tracks regional waste disposal. Disposal ton data is divided by population data from the Census for the jurisdiction of interest and for comparable jurisdictions. In San Francisco, recycling and composting data was provided by the San Francisco Department of Environment.

Limitations

Due to the nature of the solid waste, recycling and composting data that is currently available, a neighborhood comparison and geographic equity analysis of this indicator cannot be completed at this time.

  1. San Francisco Department of Environment. Mandatory Recycling and Composting. Available at: http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/topics.html?ssi=3&ti=86