Association for Postal Commerce
"Representing those who use or support the use of mail for Business Communication and Commerce"
"You will be able to enjoy only those postal rights you believe are worth defending."
RECOVERY AND REUSE OF MAIL AND PAPER
During the past five decades American attitudes toward recycling and ecology radically changed. Concerns regarding green issues -- once largely restricted to environmental activists -- entered the mainstream and impacted such issues as automobile mileage, global warming and "smart" zoning.
Environmental concerns also influenced landfill policies and materials recovery. Figures from the EPA reflect a sea change in national thinking.
What we now know is that economic and population growth are both possible even as landfill usage declines. Figures from the 45-year period between 1960 and 2006 show a dramatic change in the way we reduce, re-use and recycle:
The generation of municipal solid waste almost tripled from 88.1 million tons to 251.3 million tons.
The volume of material landfilled amounted to 138.2 million tons in 2006 -- that's LESS than the volume of MSW landfilled in 1990 when the country had 50 million fewer people.
The amount of material landfilled per day per person in 2006 was less than the amount landfilled in 2000.
Combine reduced landfill usage with increased landfill capacity and the result is diminished demand for landfill space nationwide.
The bottom line? Despite a vast population increase, nationwide landfill use is down and materials recovery is up. Seen another way, a larger population is sending less to landfills. Efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are paying off. No less important, with improved technology and increasing collection efforts, even better results may be possible.
We not only have vastly larger landfills, we are not only putting less in them, we also use them more efficiently. A given amount of landfill space will hold about 30 percent more content today than in the past.
Waste companies and municipalities, says the Times are "burying trash more tightly, so that each ton takes up less space, increasingly using giant 59-ton compacting machines guided by global positioning systems that show the operator when he has rolled over a section of the dump enough times. They cover trash at the end of the day, to keep it from blowing away, with tarps or foam or lawn clippings instead of the thick layers of soil that formerly ate up dump capacity." (See: Rumors of a Shortage of Dump Space Were Greatly Exaggerated, August 12, 2005)
We don't know what benefits technology will provide in the future, but what we do know is this: To date landfill usage has become substantially more efficient due to better management practices. It is entirely possible and reasonable that in the future we will also see improved landfill efficiency, thus limiting the need for additional landfill capacity.