Sustainable innovation in the supply chain: over 2 kilos of trash/person/day

According to the EPA in 2010 each
person in the US put out Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)- popularly known
as  garbage/trash  equal to 4.43 lb or  over 2 kilos per day. If
you look at the number of garbage cans on the weekly trash collection days- you
know that the number has not decreased and the volume of garbage has gone up.
The time is therefore appropriate to look at possibilities of innovation in the
upstream supply chain that leads to these very large quantities of garbage. See the 2010 estimates of the
composition of trash from the EPA and here are some innovation possibilities with respect to each component of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW):

  • Organic content: Includes yard trimmings and food scrap
    that is over 27%. Innovations could include proper disposal of yard
    trimmings like grass and leaves that need to be put out in paper bags.
    Food waste at about 14 % works out to 35 million tons and is really a
    waste given the poverty in the US itself. Awareness and smaller portions
    might be the answer. The disposal of food scrap in bio-degradable bags is
    an innovation whose time has come.
  • Paper and Paper-Board is about 28% and recycling is
    possible if consumers are more alert about segregating these items.
    Reducing outer packaging in the upstream supply chain and dealing with
    plastic coated paper board is an ongoing challenge and avenues for
  • Plastics, Metal and Rubber are about a third and here
    again education is required in disposal by consumers. In the US, San
    Francisco has banned the plastic bag and Delhi, India has banned plastic
    bags and plastics are seen as villians
    in sustainability. Plastics are great – it’s just that the municipal
    systems and individuals they serve do not have clear systems to deal with
    plastics. For example although towns have occasional solid waste
    collection days – most people seem to throw out their metal and glass
    waste in the trash.

In other words, there is a lot of
innovation opportunity both at the municipal garbage disposal and re-cycling
end and reducing waste at the consumer and upstream supply chain. Contact StratoServe.

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