to Source
                        United States
                        Environmental Protection
                        Solid Waste
                        and Emergency Response
January 1999
Source  Reduction
and  Your Community
An  Introduction to  EPA's
Planning  Packet
What is source reduction?
Source reduction (also known as waste prevention) involves activities that reduce
the amount of waste generated in the first place—activities that involve any
change in the design, manufacture, purchase, or usage of materials and products
to reduce their volume and/or toxicity before they become part of the municipal
solid waste stream.
                       What can source reduction do for my community?
                       Reducing waste before it's generated is a logical way to save both money and natural
                       resources. It cuts municipal and commercial costs involved in waste collection and
                       disposal, improves productivity by targeting wasteful processes and products, and
                       helps to preserve the local environment.

                       How can I determine the potential impacts of various source
                       reduction programs on my community?
                       EPA developed the Source Reduction Program Potential Manualand its companion
                       software, Reducelt, to answer this question. The manual and software are intended
                       to help local solid waste managers determine the potential impact of various source
                       reduction programs and identify how to include them in  integrated solid waste
                       management plans. EPA designed Reducelt to help guide  users through the various
                       calculations involved in determining the potential impact of a source reduction pro-

                       Six source reduction programs are highlighted in the manual and software packet.
                       EPA features these programs because they have been implemented in communities
                       across the country and often have contributed significantly to local solid waste
                       management efforts. Residential source reduction programs include grasscycling,
                       composting, and clothing and footwear reuse. Commercial source reduction pro-
                       grams include office paper reduction, paper towel reduction, and converting to
                       multiuse pallets. EPA does not advocate any one source reduction program over
                       another but recommends using those that best suit the needs of the community.
                                              A) Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber.

What is  the
for Source
What is program potential?
Program potential is the portion of the waste stream that could be targeted by a
source reduction program. Understanding program potential helps determine
whether a specific source reduction program makes sense for your community. This
decision ultimately depends on whether a program can cost-effectively reduce a size-
able portion of the waste stream. The procedure for estimating program potential is
illustrated in Figure 2.1 (from page 4 of the manual).
Figure 2. 1. The procedure for estimating program potential for source reduction.

General Waste
Stream Data

Detailed Information on Waste Stream
and Potential Program Participants

Limitations of the

                         What are program potential factors?
                         Program potential factors are multipliers that represent the impact of a source
                         reduction program as a percentage of the overall waste stream. The factors are
                         designed to help you take into account practical realities and technological limita-
                         tions when estimating how much of a given waste stream you can reduce by imple-
                         menting a source reduction program. The program potential factor methodology
                         allows managers to narrow down broad waste stream categories into more realistic
                         subsets representing the part of the waste stream that might  actually be impacted by
                         a certain source reduction program.
                         In the case of grasscycling, for example, a manager might know the amount of yard
                         trimmings generated. To estimate the impact of a grasscycling program on that
                         waste stream, the manager needs to  consider that not all of yard trimming waste is
                         grass and not all people own mulching mowers or plan to retrofit nonmulching
                         How can I use the manual to develop program potential estimates for
                         my community?
                         The manual presents program potential factors which you can use to apply national
                         results to local waste stream composition data. Specifically, the manual describes
                         how EPA developed program potential factors for each of the six source reduction
                         program options, and then demonstrates how they can be applied to the appropriate
                         components of the local waste stream data.
                         To estimate the potential of a specific local program, simply multiply the local waste
                         generation data for a specific material by the appropriate program potential factor
                         for that material. If a manager knows,  for example, that the residential community

generates 1,000 tons of yard trimmings, he or she can estimate the potential for a
grasscycling program. According to Table 5.2 from the manual, the residential pro-
gram potential factor for grasscycling is 33.1 percent (from page 18). Multiplying
the amount of waste generated by the program potential factor, the manager can
estimate the amount of grass that could be prevented from the waste stream by
implementing a grasscycling program—331 tons.
Table 5.2. Program Potential Factors
Source Reduction General Waste
Option Category
Home composting
Clothing reuse
Office paper prevention:
Converting to
multiuse pallets
Paper towel reduction
Yard Trimmings
Food scraps
Yard trimmings
Paper and paperboard
Paper and paperboard
Program Potential Factors (percent) for
All MSW Residential Commercial
Waste Waste

What data do I need in order to calculate source reduction
program potential?
You will need actual or estimated data on the weight (in tons) and composition by
material type (e.g., yard trimmings, wood, paper and paperboard) of your municipal
solid waste stream. If these data are not available, the manual provides default values
based on national averages.
Note: The source reduction program potential methodology is designed to use waste
generation data. While waste disposal data can be used to track progress in source
reduction, this methodology is not designed for waste disposal data.
Can these tools help me to identify potential savings and/or costs?
Yes. You can get general information about savings on collection and disposal, and
impacts on recycling revenues by using the worksheets or the appropriate Reducelt
screens. The worksheets will ask you to estimate "program costs." Factors influenc-
ing program costs include spending on promotional programs, staffing, and prod-
ucts such as composting bins.

                           Note: Users interested in estimating program costs can complete the screen leaving
                           the "program costs" column blank and the resulting "net savings" column will then
                           provide an estimate of a break-even "program cost." If a solid waste manager calcu-
                           lates that an office paper reduction program has the potential of conserving 100
                           tons of paper, he or she can estimate the maximum program cost to break even on
                           the investment.
Net Savings
Source Impact on Impact on Impact on Impact on Program
Reduction Collection Disposal Revenue from Revenue from Costs
Option Costs Costs Recycling Composting
($/ton) ($/ton) [$/ton] ($/ton) [$]
Grasscycling fVard Trimmings)
Home Composting (Food Scraps)
Home Composting (Yard Trimmings)
Clothing Reuse (Other Waste)
Office Paper (Paper & Paperboard) [g [39 [20 [Q [Q
Multi-use Pallets [Wood)
Paper Towel [Paper & Paperboard)
Other Option
JHelp Main | .
 -To contact PAYT, call 888 EPA-PAYT (372-7298), or access its Web site at
• To order a copy of the National Recycling Coalition's publication Making
  Source Reduction Work in Your Community: A Manual for Local Governments,
  call 703 683-9025.