Manufacturing Publications : Waste Reduction Assistance for Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Solid Waste Generators

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division (P2AD), the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources, and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) have updated the Georgia Solid Waste Management Plan. In addition to the Plan update, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was prepared to clearly define the solid waste management responsibilities of DCA, P2AD, EPD, and GEFA. According to the MOU, DCA is responsible for waste reduction assistance programs related to residentially generated solid wastes. P2AD, in addition to its existing hazardous waste and emissions reduction programs, is responsible for development and implementation of non-regulatory waste reduction assistance programs for industrial, commercial, and institutional non-hazardous solid waste. EPD oversees regulatory issues related to solid waste management, and GEFA provides financial support to local governments in the form of grants for solid waste reduction projects.

Non-hazardous industrial solid waste consists of manufacturing related process waste and non-process waste (e.g. plastic packaging, pallets, cardboard, etc.). In 1995, there were an estimated 10,000 manufacturers within the state. Commercial sources of solid waste include office buildings, retail, and service establishments. Institutional sources of solid waste include schools, libraries, hospitals, government agencies and prisons. According to Department of Labor statistics, there were approximately 180,000 commercial businesses in Georgia at the end of 1995. Typical solid wastes from these sources include office paper, food wastes, laboratory wastes, etc.

In 1996, P2AD, DCA, and EPD conducted a cooperative effort to gather information on the types and amounts of solid waste being disposed in Georgia. On-site surveys were conducted at 131 municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition (C&D) landfills across the state. Analysis of the survey results revealed that a wide variety of recoverable materials are currently being landfilled in Georgia. Survey results suggest that about 20 percent of the solid waste disposed at MSW and C&D landfills is from industrial sources, about 37 percent is from commercial and institutional sources, and the remainder is from residential sources. This breakdown is consistent with national statistics.

In addition to solid waste disposed at MSW and C&D landfills, a large amount of non-hazardous industrial solid waste is disposed in the approximately 50 on-site industry landfills. The majority of these on-site landfills are operated by the pulp and paper industry, the electric utilities, and the mining industry. The monitoring of private industry disposal practices is important because a shift toward more off-site disposal could severely affect available local MSW disposal capacities.

P2AD will focus solid waste reduction assistance efforts on five waste streams: textile waste, wood waste, construction & demolition waste, food processing waste, and wastewater treatment sludge. These five represent materials that are currently being disposed in significant quantities in the state’s landfills, and are generated primarily from non-residential sources.

To begin assistance efforts, P2AD is developing assessments of each waste stream. These assessments will include: a profile of the waste’s generators (who they are and where they are located); a characterization of the waste stream, including quantities and composition; current management practices; opportunities for waste reduction; markets for the waste stream if it is diverted from the landfill; and a preliminary strategy to encourage waste stream reduction. After the initial assessment is complete, P2AD expects to form several work groups to help formulate waste reduction plans for the wastestreams.

In addition, P2AD is partnering with DCA and the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (DITT) in identifying and developing markets for recyclable materials. P2AD will also use regional networks being established in cooperation with the Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute to facilitate the development of regional material exchanges for priority wastes. Finally, P2AD has received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Jobs Through Recycling Program to foster research and market development on viable solid waste reduction options.