Some important new work by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the non-profit Product Policy Institute add to the evidence that we need to be recycling -- and redesigning products and packaging -- rather than burning our waste in incinerators.
Read the New York Times coverage by John Collins Rudolf, which provides links to the new reports.
The gist is that we have been underestimating the GHG emissions from waste management by only looking at the end of the pipe. Metro's AECOM report says that waste contributes only 5% of BC's GHG emissions. But the US EPA analysis looks at the whole life-cycle of the stuff we throw away and finds that the provision and use of goods (throw away products and packaging) is responsible for 37% of US GHG emissions.
The New York Times notes that if you add in provision of food (industrial agriculture), the GHG impact rises to 42%.
The Product Policy Institute report expanded the analysis to account for imported products and packaging and found that our consumption produces 44% of our GHG emissions.
Both reports conclude that improved recycling and Extended Producer Responsibility policies are important tools for reducing GHG emissions.
By burning throw-away products and packaging incinerators, we add to GHG emissions. By recycling and redesigning products, we reduce them.