Often time garbage is something you think about once or twice a week- such as pulling it to the curb or if it starts to stink! Getting our trash picked up is a large undertaking, one that we may take for granted, and really only realize its importance if it doesn’t get picked up.
By law, governments must provide waste and recycling collection services, and keeping a uniform program is high on the list due to environmental and public health. In Niagara County, we don’t have to look too far to find issues and discussions related to waste management.
What’s in it?
Our trash is made up of the things we commonly use and then throw away. These materials include items such as packaging, food scraps, grass clippings, sofas, computers, tires, and refrigerators. Waste is broken down into categories to analyze, but to also target for recycling.
The largest portion of the waste stream is Container and Packaging (30%), which are things like soda bottles, bags and boxes. Organic Waste, like leaves, grass, branches and food scraps is about 29% of what we throw away at home. Non-Durable Goods, such as paper plates, napkins and diapers amount to 21% and Durable Goods, like computers, couches and appliances account for 20%.
Where does it go?
Once our trash is collected at our curb, it will get sent to one of three places: a landfill, waste-to-energy facility (incinerator) or a transfer station. The same can be said for trash collected from businesses, schools, and industries that have their waste collected from dumpsters. Depending on where you live in Niagara County, your waste may be incinerated instead of landfilled.
Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) is a system to manage waste under which residents pay for only what they are throwing away, instead of paying a fixed rate. Therefore, if you throw out only a few things each week, you pay less than the person that throws out a lot of stuff each week.
These programs are adopted to increase equity, encourage more recycling, and allow residents to control their own waste costs. These programs can be customized to match the needs of any community, and almost always result in waste reduction, cost reduction and higher recycling rates. The best example of a PAYT program is in the City of Lockport, which offers three sized trash carts and one large recycling cart to each parcel.