The students will gain an awareness of the costs of waste disposal.
The students will demonstrate that disposal costs may be offset
by recycling a portion of municipal waste.
Eleven million Pennsylvanians generate over nine million tons
of municipal waste annually. That is the equivalent of nearly
five pounds of waste generated per person per day. In some
Pennsylvania communities, the cost for disposal of municipal waste
exceeds $40.00 per ton. This does not include the cost for collection
and transportation of the waste.
It has been estimated that over 50% of the
municipal waste generated is comprised of materials which are
recyclable, but only about one percent is presently recycled.
1. Ask each member of the class to calculate
the amount of municipal waste generated by his family in a week
using the factor of five pounds per person per day. Discuss
with the class whether the results are realistic. How do some
families generate less garbage? (Buying less, buying less packaging,
reusing, recycling, composting, etc.).
2. Have the class calculate the amount of
municipal waste a community of 10,000 persons would generate
annually. What would be the annual cost to the community for its
waste disposal at $40.00 per ton? Discuss with the class how communities
pay for disposal of municipal waste (direct payment for municipal
collection and disposal, taxes, utility fee, direct payment to
contracting disposal firms).
3. Assume that 25% of the community waste
could be recovered and sold through recycling. Assume that the
average market price paid for aluminum, glass, ferrous metal,
paper and plastic is $10.00 per ton. Assume that the cost for
collection and transportation of recyclables is equivalent to
that of waste.
Ask the class to calculate the amount of the
annual community waste disposal cost that could be saved through
recycling. Did the class consider that an additional savings would
be realized since the amount of waste requiring disposal has been
reduced by 25%?
4. Discuss with the class other benefits associated
with the recycling of municipal waste (energy and natural resource
conservation, environmental benefits of disposal avoidance including
conservation of existing landfill space, employment in the recycling
5. Ask the class members whether a recycling
effort in their community could affect disposal costs. Why?