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Articles on Municipal solid waste

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When in doubt, throw it out – but not in the recycling bin. Basak Gurbuz Derman/Moment via Getty Images

What is wishcycling? Two waste experts explain

Tossing something into your recycling bin that can’t be processed does more harm than good.
When people have to pay for every bag of trash they throw out, they produce less waste. Mint Images RF via Getty Images

What is pay-as-you-throw? A waste expert explains

When governments want people to do less of something, one way to make that happen is to charge them for doing it. That’s the idea behind pay-as-you-throw waste policies.
Lava flows from a fissure in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 22, 2018. Andrew Richard Hara/Ena Media Hawaii via Getty Images

Why can’t we throw all our trash into a volcano and burn it up?

Volcanoes might seem like nature’s incinerators, but using them to burn up trash would be dangerous and disrespectful to indigenous people who view them as sacred.
Packaging for consumer products represents a large share of U.S. solid waste, and barely half of it is recycled. iStock via Getty Images

Packaging generates a lot of waste – now Maine and Oregon want manufacturers to foot the bill for getting rid of it

Maine and Oregon have enacted laws that require makers of consumer product packaging to pay for recycling or disposing of it. Will other states follow?
Volunteers load plastic bags for a weekly food pantry service in Everett, Mass., May 10, 2020. Everett has some of the highest COVID-19 infections rates in the state. Joseph Prezioso /AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 has resurrected single-use plastics – are they back to stay?

Pandemic precautions have given new life to disposable plastic products, which the industry claims are more ‘hygienic’ than reusables. But critics say there’s no scientific evidence this is so.
A discarded medical glove in Jersey City, N.J., April 27, 2020. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

COVID-19 is laying waste to many US recycling programs

The COVID-019 pandemic has boosted use of disposable packaging and personal protective equipment, at the same time that many recycling programs are facing budget cuts. The upshot: More plastic trash.
A collapsed building in Mayfield, Ky., after a tornado hit the town on Dec. 11, 2021. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Smashed cars, burnt trees, soggy insulation: Post-disaster cleanup is expensive, time-consuming and wasteful

Government agencies have detailed plans for responding to disasters, like the Dec. 10-11, 2021 tornados. But one issue doesn’t get enough attention: cleaning up the mess left behind.
The Wheelabrator Waste to Energy Plant in Saugus, Massachusetts, has been burning trash to generate electricity since 1975. Fletcher6/Wikimedia

Is burning trash a good way to handle it? Waste incineration in 5 charts

Every year the US burns more than 34 million tons of garbage in incinerators. These plants are major pollution sources, and most are clustered in disadvantaged communities.

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