Way to go, Frisco! If you want to know how environmental your city is, measure how much garbage is thrown away per person. Out of the five cities that share the landfill managed by the North Texas Municipal Water District, Frisco has the lowest Garbage per Capita (GPC), or the number of pounds of garbage thrown away per person per day. GPC is a great metric for measuring the success of reduce, reuse and recycling education programs. Since Frisco is using the landfill at a slower rate (thus extending the life of the landfill), they are saving the other four cities money.
A new landfill can cost upwards of $500,000 per acre to construct. The longer this construction is deferred, the more money taxpayers save! This viewpoint sounds like justification to charge a higher rate at the landfill to cities with a high GPC. The national average is 4.5 pounds per person per day. The state of Texas averages 7.22 pounds per person per day. Hurricanes do affect the numbers, as revealed by the South East Regional Planning Commission which includes Beaumont, Texas. The GPC in the Beaumont region is 13.25 pounds per person per day, almost three times the national average. Identifying the GPC for your region will reveal how effective your programs are at diverting material from the landfill.
In Richardson, it is more expensive to recycle than to throw material away. Commercial garbage collection in Richardson is subsidized by city trucks. Recycling service in Richardson is available from a variety of vendors – none of these vendors can provide recycling service as low as the city garbage collection service. Since it is more expensive to recycle in Richardson than to throw away, there is little diversion from the landfill and lots of disposal.
Another reason why measuring GPC as the way to measure diversion is because measuring all the recycling accumulated is just not wise. If you only measure the recycling as the way to measure diversion (for example, if you have 1,000 tons of garbage and 300 tons of recycling, then the environmental accountants see this as a 30 percent recycling rate) it does nothing to encourage reduce and reuse practices. If you get high fives for having a humongous pile of recycling, why would you use a reusable bottle? Measuring the recycling encourages creating another pile rather than eliminating waste, recyclable or otherwise. If we are aiming for zero waste, let’s measure the waste, not the amount of recycling. Garbage per Capita: lowest score wins!
3.81 lbs. of GPC per day.
3.94 lbs. of GPC per day.
4.47 lbs. of GPC per day.
4.93 lbs. of GPC per day.
5.09 lbs. of GPC per day.
Barbara Eastwood Coombs has facilitated the implementation of recycling programs since 1988, including working with corporations, city and county facilities, universities and schools.