- Residents of Pitkin County, CO generate an average 10 pounds of waste per day — far above the national average. Local officials hope to extend the county landfill's remaining 15-year lifespan by turning this around, as reported by Aspen Public Radio.
- The county's ongoing "Talking Trash" campaign is using talking animated characters — a fish bone, a coffee cup, a tin can — to educate residents about what to recycle. The ads have been featured in print, online and on TV.
- The local diversion rate is about 40% — nearly triple the state average — but officials see room for growth. Organic waste is a particular focus and the landfill is currently giving out free compost bins.
This is all part of a multi-phase county plan to better manage what's being sent to the landfill. Phase one identified waste characterization statistics and diversion rates. The $75,000 second phase will start later this year and look for changes to specific programs across residential and commercial sectors.
Construction and demolition waste makes up more than 60% of the material dumped in Pitkin County's landfill due to major building projects in the region. Officials have considered new incentives for contractors to deconstruct buildings in a way that allows the materials to be reused. Portland, OR recently took a major step in this direction by banning the wholesale demolition of any homes built in or before 1916.
Michigan's Kent County is trying a similar approach to prolong the life of its landfill by launching a campaign called "Imagine Trash" that asked for pledges to recycle more. While these types of programs are useful ways to raise awareness, some studies have shown that awareness may not be the issue.
A recent study on food waste found that most consumers knew about it, and even felt guilty, but weren't willing to change their behavior.