Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text Page: 51 of 216
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Municipalities are responsible for managing the solid waste generated in their jurisdictions.
The primary purpose of municipal waste management is to handle waste safely, economically,
and in a way that protects human health and the environment. Municipalities have many possi-
ble alternatives for municipal (MSW) management. Each community has its own criteria for the
technologies it selects, and it needs to compare the various alternatives to choose an appropriate
single waste handling technology or an integrated combination of technologies to form a waste
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL) recognized the need to provide a foundation for comparing available methods of
managing MSW. In response, DOE initiated a study to gather and review publicly available
information on various waste management technologies, assess the quality of the data, and con-
vert the data to a consistent basis for ease in comparing alternatives. This report summarizes the
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that U.S. MSW* totaled
180 million tons in 1988t and will grow over the next decade at a rate of 1.5% per year, twice the
rate of growth in the population (FR, 1991h). Other recent examinations of the estimates used by
the EPA indicate that the rate of growth of MSW has been constant over the period 1970-1984
(for which data were analyzed), and that the amount of MSW generated increases directly with
population growth, which is currently averaging 0.75% per year (Alter, 1991).
At present, 69-73% of all MSW is landfilled, and 17% is combusted in 176 municipal waste
combustors (NSWMA, 1991). Some sources claim that recycling now handles 10-14% of U.S.
waste (EPA, 1990).
OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, METHODOLOGY
This report describes individual waste management methods, such as sanitary landfilling,
composting, recycling, or combustion. Those methods are referred to here as "options" or as
"technologies." A data base has been constructed to make the data on individual technologies
accessible. To determine the effects of combining individual technologies, this report also
presents analyses of selected combinations of waste management technologies, together with
choices concerning collection and transport of waste. Those combinations are referred to here as
"integrated strategies." In addition, the data base allows users to estimate the energy and
emissions for strategies consisting of any combination of individual technologies.
* MSW consists of residential solid waste and some commercial, institutional, and industrial wastes.
t The EPA's estimate was published in 1990 (EPA, 1990). Other sources report an estimate of 293 million tons
per year of solid waste, based on the sum of the quantities of solid waste reported by each state; that estimate,
however, may include construction and demolition debris, sewage sludge, and some industrial waste (Glenn and
Riggle, 1991). The EPA estimates thatindustry generated 7 billion tons of solid waste in 1985, and managed
99% of it on site (FR, 1991m).
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SRI International. Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text, report, October 1992; Golden, Colorado. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1310776/m1/51/: accessed May 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.