United States
 Environmental Protection
                            Solid Waste and
                            Emergency Response
EPA 530-E-99-002b
October 1999
WasteWise:  Climate  Benefits

From  Reducing Waste

   WasteWise, a program that promotes waste prevention and recycling practices—-joint-
ly referred to as waste reduction—in offices and industry,  diverts materials from the
municipal solid waste stream. In addition to cost savings and efficiencies, waste reduc-
tion has positive effects on climate change. The manufacture and distribution of products
and the subsequent management of solid waste can contribute to the formation of green-
house gases. To lowergreenhouse gas emissionsfrom these actions, as well as for other envi-
ronmental benefits, EPA is encouraging waste reduction efforts through its WasteWise
      $ince January 1994, EPA has been
      working  in   partnership  with
      American  businesses; federal, state,
      local, and tribal governments; and
institutions  to reduce  municipal solid
waste. Presently, more than 950 orga-
nizations are WasteWise partners.
Partners are located all across
the country and represent a
variety of business, civic, and
industrial  sectors, ranging from
small local governments to Fortune
1000  corporations.  Through  the
WasteWise program, partners make a vol-
untary commitment  to implement or
expand a  solid waste  reduction program
with three complementary components:
•   Preventing waste. The cornerstone of
WasteWise is  waste  prevention, which
means using less  material to do the same
job' or  produce  the  same  product.
WasteWise partners commit to implement-
ing three significant waste prevention activ-
ities of their choice.
•   Recycling collection. By collecting
recyclables,  WasteWise partners divert
materials from disposal.  They commit to
initiate, expand, or improve internal pro-
                                       grams to collect recyclables. For example,
                                       offices may add new materials to an existing
                                       program or boost recycling rates by educat-
                                       ing employees or the community.

                                       •   Buying  or manufacturing recycled-
                                       content products. WasteWise partners can
                                         play a key role in  integrating recycled-
                                            content materials into consumer mar-
                                             kets. They commit  to purchasing
                                             products with recycled content.
                                             Manufacturers may also raise the
                                             percentage of postconsumer materi-
                                            als in the products they make.

                                       WasteWise partners design their own solid
                                       waste reduction programs, tailored to meet
                                       their needs and operations. Partners moni-
                                       tor their progress during a 3-year period
                                       and  report  annually to EPA  on their
                                       accomplishments. The WasteWise program
                                       helps participating organizations  discover
                                       waste reduction opportunities and set waste
                                       reduction goals.  Partners  have access
                                       (through a toll-free helpline) to WasteWise
                                       representatives, who  provide personalized
                                       assistance, and to a wide range of waste
                                       reduction publications  and  electronic
                                       support   services. EPA  also  publicly
                                       recognizes individual organizations and
                                       program successes.
  Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber.

            The  three  cornerstones  of  WasteWise—
            %vaste  prevention, recycling collection, and
            buying/manufacturing products  widi
            recycled content—are among die most
  effective ways to slash the greenhouse gases
  traceable to municipal solid waste.
  WasteWise partners  divert  millions
  of tons of material from disposal
             ^  each    year.
             •"» They   also
                attain  higher
               levels  of  efficiency
                 by  using  only  the
                    materials diey really
                               need. And
                               as these orga-
                               nizations prevent
                               more  waste   and
                               recycle more materials,
                               fewer greenhouse gases
                                    emitted  into  the
call the WasteWiss helpline at -r  —_^

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                               Waste prevention, in
                               particular, can greatly
                               reduce die emission of
                               greenhouse  gases  by
                              conserving raw materi-
                             als   and  the  energy
                            expended  to   retrieve,
process, and manufacture diem into  products. In addi-
tion, waste prevention keeps materials  out of landfills and
incinerators. Certain materials generate greenhouse gases
as they degrade in landfills or burn  in incinerators.
Overall, waste prevention provides more climate change
benefits than any other waste management option.

By boosting dieir recycling collection  efforts, WasteWise
partners keep valuable materials out of landfills and incin-
erators. In particular,  many organizations have increased
their recycling of office paper and corrugated containers.
Keeping paper products out of landfills cuts methane emis-
sions.  Recycling used paper saves energy and can leave
more trees standing in the forest. Trees take large amounts
of carbon dioxide out of the  atmosphere and store it in
                                                              WasteWise partners are also encouraged to manufacture or
                                                              buy products made  from  recyclable materials. This
                                                              helps ensure that recyclables, rather than raw materials, are
                                                              used in manufacturing processes. Typically, manufacturing
                                                              products from recycled rather than virgin materials con-
                                                              sumes less energy.

                                                              How much of an impact is WasteWise having on climate
                                                              change? In 1998, WasteWise partners documented some
                                                              611,000 tons of wasj{e majerial^reduced, including corru-
                                                              gated cardboard, wgod, rci6t|l, and paper. They also recy-
                                                              cled over 7.2 million tons of waste, including; steel, wood,
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                                                              paper,  cardboard,, ... ,au"dI other items. In climate, change
                                                              terms, this is having a tremendous impact. The combined
                                                              recycling and wast^gfevention effortsiof the WasteWise
                                                              partners in 1998 dgpppf|vented 7 million metric tons of
                                                              carbon equivalent (IXTCE,, the basic unit of measure for
                                                              greenhouse gases) thajLWotjJd odierwise ,Eave been released
                                                              into the atmosphere; That's like, preventing the average
                                                                        . . i    8"	;» J%  .  B;;S    •*    <*   "3"  * '"•(. "
                                                              annual  emissions  rrojn^electric power consumption or
                                                              roughly 4.2 million l^i|eliglds. 'i^   ~    ~  '  73.
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