Environmental Protection

Missouri Landfills Contain Millions of Dollars of Recyclables

A solid waste composition study recently completed for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources found a significant percentage of the municipal solid waste deposited in Missouri's landfills has the potential to be recycled.

The Midwest Assistance Program Inc. conducted the 2006-2007 Missouri Municipal Solid Waste Composition Study for the department's Solid Waste Management Program. The department will use the information gathered from this study to help plan waste reduction programs, measure the effectiveness of current waste reduction programs and target recoverable materials that have the potential to be recycled.

Municipal solid waste, generated by homes, schools, small businesses and other commercial activities, was sorted at 15 solid waste disposal facilities. The study found nearly 45 percent of the municipal solid waste deposited in Missouri landfills could be recycled, including metals, paper, plastics and glass. The study estimated more than 1.9 million tons of recyclable materials were disposed of in Missouri landfills each year. If recycled, the potential economic value of the materials as commodities would have been approximately $208 million dollars.

Using recovered materials in manufacturing new products saves energy, money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If recyclable materials in Missouri's municipal solid waste were recovered instead of disposed, nearly 28 billion British thermal units of energy could have been saved, equivalent to the amount of energy used by 262,000 houses in a year. This would amount to cost savings of more than $500 million, based on the average cost of propane for 2006 and 2007.

"It is important to focus efforts on recovery of these resources for both their environmental benefits and the economic value derived from recycling them," said Department of Natural Resources Director Doyle Childers. "The results of this study will assist Missouri's 20 Solid Waste Management Districts in designing and implementing programs to reduce, reuse and recycle targeted materials within the municipal solid waste sector."

More information on the study can be found at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/rrr/rrr.htm.

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