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Thursday July 31, 2014 10:31:29 AM
|Dept. of Administration / Office of Geographic and Demographic Analysis|
Minnesota Milestones Links
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Indicator 6 1 : Solid waste and recycling
Goal: Minnesotans will conserve natural resources to give future generations a healthy environment and a strong economy. Continued prosperity and community well-being depend on conserving and maintaining the natural systems that are the base for economic activity.
Rationale: Waste generation, and the proportion that is recycled, is one measure of how efficiently Minnesota's economy uses resources. It is also an indication of environmental quality because solid waste puts stress on the environment in the form of air, land, and water pollution.Tons of solid waste generated, per person
Data source: Minnesota Office of Environmental AssistancePercentage of solid waste recycled
Data source: Minnesota Office of Environmental AssistanceBase recycling rate
Data source: Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
About this indicator: The amount of solid waste generated per person has risen steadily since 1991 and the base recycling rate has changed little since 1996. When yard waste and source reduction credits are added to the recycling rate (the middle column in the graphic), the recycling rate shows a modest increase.
The amount of solid waste Minnesotans produce and the portion they recycle have significant economic and environmental impacts. More waste means having to spend more on waste management. In addition, waste accumulates faster than natural systems are able to break it down.
Tracking the amount of solid waste by weight provides no information about the relative toxicity of what is thrown away. Materials containing toxic heavy metals, such as electronics, pose a growing challenge.
For comparison: In 1993, the Minnesota Legislature set a minimum target of reducing per capita generation of municipal solid waste by 10 percent by 2000, but the rate instead rose by 24 percent, from .93 tons per person to 1.15 tons per person.
Things to think about: Harvard Business School's Michael Porter suggests that waste should be thought of as an inefficiently used resource, which he equates with lost profits and wasted labor, since creating and managing waste imposes costs, but adds no value to the final product or service.
A 1989 study by the National Academy of Engineering estimates that more than 90 percent of the materials used in commercial activity do not turn up in durable goods, and quickly become waste. The study found that of the more than 10 tons of mass extracted per person annually in the United States, (excluding atmospheric oxygen and fresh water), roughly 75 percent is nonrenewable and 25 percent is renewable. This suggests that there are opportunities to create the same or greater economic value using fewer resources. Other national research suggests that continual reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials and more efficient processes could cut resource use more than 90 percent in most sectors of the economy.
Technical notes: Data for this indicator is collected by counties and reported to the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance under a 1989 law commonly referred to as SCORE, for Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment.
The solid waste that is tracked for this indicator does not include yard waste, auto hulks, street sweepings, ash, construction debris, mining waste, sludge, tree and agricultural waste, tires, lead acid batteries, motor and vehicle fluids and filters or other materials collected as separate waste streams, such as hazardous waste.
This edition of Minnesota Milestones reports a higher recycling rate for 1996 than was reported in 1998 because the updated figure includes the base recycling rate plus credits for yard waste and source reduction.
Starting in 1995, yard waste was not included in the state's base recycling rate. Instead, the state mandated a credit system for yard waste and source reduction activities to be added to the base recycling rate.
Related data trends:
Other related indicators:
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