Green Living

A Syndicated Column By Waste Management

Top Sustainability Issues

We live in a world where little can go to waste anymore. Waste Management recognizes that we must maximize our resource value and minimize waste. With this mission in mind, we have been reconsidering the nature of waste and recovering value from waste. Environmental sustainability is not only good for our planet but also helps businesses cut costs and improve their operations. The following are some sustainability issues to watch for in the coming years:

1. Water conservation: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 35 states will be facing water shortages by 2013. Since water uses up energy due to heating and pumping, water conservation will not only help save our water supply but also conserve energy and reduce our water footprint.

2. Renewable energy: When we speak of renewable energy, wind and solar power come to mind. However, many people do not realize that landfill gas is also a valuable source of renewable energy. Landfill gas is produced through the decomposition of waste and collected through extraction wells placed in the landfill. Landfill gas can be used in any facility that otherwise uses fossil fuel.

3. Sustainable building design: California has been leading the way in sustainable, green building and has a mandatory green building code. Last year, California passed a new building code, dubbed "CalGreen", which applies to all newly constructed residential and non-residential buildings.

CalGreen's goals are to reduce construction waste, make buildings more energy-efficient, and reduce the environmental impact of construction. It is important for construction companies to find a partner that can help them reduce their environmental impact and easily track statistics on recycling and diversion rates.

4. Food waste: Food waste is an often-overlooked issue but bears heavy costs to the global environment. The US generates over 34 million tons of food waste each year, most of which ends up in landfills and incinerators. Such waste leads to excess energy consumption and increased greenhouse gases.

Food waste can easily be reduced, reused, and recycled. Recycled food waste, or compost, has many environmental benefits such as improved soil health and structure as well as reduced need for supplemental water. A waste audit would help a company figure out where and when waste is generated; such information can then be used to reduce food waste and save money.

5. Recycling: Recycling turns waste into valuable resources. In 2009, about 34% of waste was recovered and recycled, preventing the release of approximately 178 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air. This was the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road for a year!

We all have a duty to protect the environment and leave it better for the future generations. Waste Management is committed to this cause and will help you seize every opportunity to turn waste into a resource that benefits our communities and the environment, while helping you save money.

For more information, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at