Focus Area 4: Materials Management & Recycling
City of Atlanta’s solid waste is disposed of outside of the city limits. Emissions from decaying putrescible material directly contribute 4% of City of Atlanta’s total GHG emissions and contribute to emissions in the Transportation sector via hauling of waste to and from facilities and operating. Additionally, embodied energy within the items that we throw away might be harnessed through reuse and recycling of materials. It is in City of Atlanta’s long-term interest to expand recycling facilities and enable re-use of construction materials and other goods. This chapter focuses on opportunities to reduce waste, reuse materials, and recycle what cannot be reused.
|Increase diversion from landfill to 80% by 2020|
|MM-1 Building Materials Reuse||Promote the reuse of building materials and organizations whose main function is the collection of these materials for reuse||Y||Both|
|MM 2- Divert MSW from landfills (recycling program)||A. Educate/Enforce Ordinance #130-Multifamily recycling;
B. Formally create a partnership between nonprofits (e.g., The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), Keep Atlanta Beautiful (KAB), and the Lifecycle Building Center) and CarAtlanta to promote recycling education, curbside collection, and proper handling of nontraditional items.
C. Pricing mechanisms: Pay-as-you-Throw program
|MM 1-Buildings Materials Reuse|
|Promote the reuse of building materials and organizations whose main function is the collection of these materials for reuse|
|MM-1A||Promote the use of the building materials reuse warehouses for community construction and demolition use||Status|
|In the City of Atlanta, there are some nonprofit organizations that collect and resale building materials for reuse from construction and demolition (e.g., The Lifecycle Building Center, http://www.lifecyclebuildingcenter.org). The objective of this strategy is to promote these organizations and educate residents and developers about the use of these centers.|
|MM 2-Divert MSW from landfills|
|Divert from the landfill stream 80% of municipal and residential waste by 2020|
|MM-2A||Educate/Enforce Ordinance #130-Multifamily recycling||Status|
|City of Atlanta Ordinance #130 requires managers of multi-family units to provide their complex with commercial containers for the recyclables, including at the minimum the materials the City collects as part of its curbside recycling program. The location of these containers cannot in any way impede normal public right-of-ways.|
|MM-2B||Support Center for Hard to Recycle Materials||Status|
|Formally create a partnership between nonprofits (e.g., The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), Keep Atlanta Beautiful (KAB), and the Lifecycle Building Center) and CarAtlanta, to promote recycling education, curbside collection, and proper handling of nontraditional items that are hazardous, bulky, or other hard to recycle items.|
|MM-2C||Pricing Solution (Pay-as-you-Throw)||Status|
|In a pay-as-you-throw program, residents are charged for the collection of municipal solid waste (ordinary household trash) based on the amount they throw away. This creates a direct economic incentive to recycle more and to generate less waste.
Traditionally, residents pay for waste collection through property taxes or a fixed fee, regardless of how much, or how little, trash they generate. Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) breaks with tradition by treating trash services just like electricity, gas, and other utilities. Households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of service they use.
Most communities with PAYT charge residents a fee for each bag or can of waste they generate. In a small number of communities, residents are billed based on the weight of their trash. Either way, these programs are simple and fair. The less individuals throw away, the less they pay.
EPA supports PAYT because the program provides three benefits:
1. Environmental Sustainability – Communities with programs in place have reported significant increases in recycling and reductions in waste, due primarily to the waste reduction incentive created by PAYT. Less waste and more recycling mean that fewer natural resources need to be extracted. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture, distribution, use, and subsequent disposal of products are reduced as a result of the increased recycling and waste reduction PAYT encourages. In this way, PAYT helps slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere which leads to global climate change. For more information on the link between solid waste and global climate change, go to EPA’s Climate Change Web site.
2. Economic Sustainability – PAYT is an effective tool for communities struggling to cope with soaring municipal solid waste management expenses. Well-designed programs generate the revenues communities need to cover their solid waste costs, including the costs of such complementary programs as recycling and composting. Residents benefit, too, because they have the opportunity to take control of their trash bills.
3. Equity – One of the most important advantages of a variable-rate program may be its inherent fairness. When the cost of managing trash is hidden in taxes or charged at a flat rate, residents who recycle and prevent waste subsidize their neighbors’ wastefulness. Under PAYT, residents pay only for what they throw away.
Questions? e-mail Jairo H Garcia, Sustainability Management Analyst at jhgarcia@AtlantaGa.Gov