sustainability in Waco, TX

Your Ultimate Guide to Waste Reduction From Recycling to Zero Waste

How to reduce your waste: from recycling to zero waste step by step

Every year, a person in Texas produces 5.6 tons of waste according to the EPA. In addition to polluting the environment, this garbage can be a threat to our health.

Why sort and recycle waste

Of these tons of waste, household waste represents 768 kg. The majority of waste is generated by the construction sector with 4,400 kg and by companies in other sectors with 900 kg. They have three different outlets:

  • Recycling at 65%, to supply the steel industry, the paper industry, the glass industry and the plastics industry
  • Disposal at 29%, i.e. incineration or landfill
  • Energy recovery at 6%, i.e. the transformation of material waste into another material or energy product

What about the 768 kg of household waste we produce? More than half of it (51%) is unsorted garbage that is incinerated or landfilled. The share of sorted waste intended for recycling is only 20% and waste taken to recycling centers to be recycled represents 29%. The volume of household waste produced in Texas is far too large and can easily be reduced since a large part is not recycled as it should be.

Texas government environmental policies encourage this reduction of waste, as Texas wants to reduce its household waste by 10% in 2030 compared to 2020, as well as halve the waste sent to landfill by 2035 and that destined for recycling by 65%.

Do you really know what’s in your trash

More than three quarters of its content has no place there! A household waste bin contains:

  • 35% of paper and packaging which should be sorted and then recycled into new products
  • 27% of organic waste which could be composted or put in an organic bin to be used as fertilizer or biogas
  • 14% sanitary textiles (diapers, tissues, wipes, sanitary napkins, etc.)
  • 5% of waste benefiting from dedicated channels which, returned to the right places, could be recycled or treated in an appropriate manner (clothing and shoes in textile terminals; batteries, light bulbs and small household appliances in stores; medicines in the pharmacy, etc.)
  • 19% other waste (clay pots, fine elements < 8 mm, other waste outside dedicated channels)

The EPA report also highlights the excessive number of single-use products such as sanitary textiles, disposable tableware, food trays of prepared meals, plastic gadgets, etc.

The environmental impact of waste recycling

An EPA study shows that waste recycling has a positive environmental impact. Each year, it helps avoid the emission of 20 million tonnes of CO2. Recycling saved 106 million gigajoules of non-renewable energy, the energy consumption of 17 million barrels of oil.

Thanks to this process, water and raw materials are also saved. Thus, 171 million cubic meters of water were preserved, which is the equivalent of the annual domestic consumption of 3 million inhabitants. Recycling also involves 6 million tons of recycled materials which have been incorporated into manufacturing processes. The rate of use of recycled raw materials in industry stands at 42%. 5 material sectors are mainly concerned by collection for recycling. In descending order, we have:

  • ferrous metals (steel): 51.9%
  • paper and cardboard: 29.2%
  • glass: 9.5%
  • non-ferrous metals (aluminum, copper, lead and zinc): 5.5%
  • plastics: 3.9%

Ferrous metals are the good performers but this can also be explained by strong demand from steelmakers. Manufacturers are increasingly using recycled raw materials in production. The use rate of recycled glass, cardboard and non-ferrous metals is between 50 and 75%. For plastic, the rate is significantly lower, since it has stagnated at 5% since the 2000s.

If recycling has a positive environmental impact, it is no less important to ensure that you reduce your waste on a daily basis because it is still the solution that has the least negative effects on the planet. Remember that unproduced waste is waste that does not pollute!

How to reduce your daily household waste

To reduce your daily waste, the change doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, there are simple tips for asking the right questions and acting effectively on the volume of waste produced.

According to recycling and waste management experts at Waco Dumpster Rentals Boss, the acronym NISOU helps remember these questions:

  • Need: What need does this purchase meet for me?
  • Immediacy: Do I need it immediately?
  • Similar: Do I already have something similar that might work?
  • Origin: What is the origin of this product?
  • Useful: Will this item be useful to me?

The idea of this method is to ask yourself if the purchase meets a real need. No more compulsive purchases! In addition to reducing our impact on the planet, we also save money by buying only what we need.