Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:53 AM
Verifiable Waste Metrics
If Municipality A says that it collected 100,000 tons, and disposed of 50,000 tons at its landfill, it stands to reason that it has achieved a diversion rate of 50%. So if Municipality B says that it too has collected 100,000 tons and achieved a diversion rate of 50%, then we know that in terms of diversion performance, A and B are similar if not absolutely the same. Really?
Call me an incurable skeptic, but how can anyone tell just what the story is if (1) there is no standard accounting system in force, (2) the ultimate fate of diverted materials is rarely tracked, and (3) there is tremendous pressure to maximize the diversion rate regardless of the benefits involved.
We’ve been through this discussion many times in the past, harping on the notion that it’s time to pin the metrics down. Indeed I’ve received nary a single response to the contrary. Yet a year from today—or a decade for that matter—do you expect to see a serious effort to do away with the uncertainties that prevent us from taking an honest view of the true effects of our diversion practices?
It seems evident to me that we really don’t want to get a genuine handle on our waste management metrics or we would have done so already. So what will it take to change the course, and even more to the point, who will take the lead? I have to believe that there are an awful lot of waste managers struggling to achieve a 30% diversion rate who wonder just how a few of their fellow systems lay claim to more than twice the result.
Are there other skeptics out there?