Everybody has a Role
Everyone is responsible for creating — and solving — the
garbage problem. Working together is the key to closing
our national garbage gap.

Consumers need to be responsible for learning about
the products and packaging they buy and the waste
their households and offices contribute. Consumers can
buy products with longer lives, that are recyclable or
recycled, and with less packaging. Citizens can partici-
pate in local recycling of newspapers, cans and bottles,
and they can compost their wastes.  Consumers need to
understand the real costs and be prepared to pay for
their trash disposal. And they need to recognize the
need for local garbage facilities.

Business and Industry are responsible for including
source reduction, reuse, and recyclability in their product
design and packaging. Manufacturers need to use re-
cycled materials whenever possible.  As large consumers,
businesses and industries need to buy recycled and
recyclable products. Moreover, corporations can be impor-
tant leaders in community waste management programs.

Waste Management Companies are responsible for
working with their communities to plan and carry out
integrated waste management practices.  Waste com-
panies, including recyclers, must make sure they operate
with the public safety and health in mind. They need to
be sure that their operators are well trained. Waste com-
panies can help develop markets for  recycled materials
and educate the public about ways to reduce the
garbage problem.

Local Governments are responsible for managing the
trash of their citizens. They should plan for the best
combination of integrated waste management
components to prevent or solve their own garbage
dilemma. Recycling should play a key part in reducing
dependence on landfills. Educating consumers is their
responsibility, too.

State Governments are responsible for regulating,
permitting, enforcing, and, in concert with local
governments, planning for waste management.

The Federal Government is taking responsibility for
leading the charge to solve the garbage problem
through regulations, guidance, education, technical
assistance, and by using its purchasing power.
.A Challenge for Our Throw-Away Society
 This brochure briefly describes EPA's recently issued
 report The Solid Waste Dilemma: An Agenda for Action.
 You are encouraged to get a free copy of the report by
 calling EPA's RCRA Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or, in Wash-
 ington, D.C., 382-3000. Find out what you can do to
 help make it work. For additional information, you may
 contact your EPA Regional Office solid waste
 Region I
 JFK Federal Building
 Boston, MA 02203
 (617) 573-9687
 Region II
 26 Federal Plaza
 New York, NY 10278
 (212) 264-3384
 Region III
 841 Chestnut Building
 Philadelphia, PA 19107
 (215) 597-3159
 1215) 597-8990
 Region IV
 345 Courtland Street, N.E.
 Atlanta, GA 30365
 (404) 347-3433
 Region V
 230 S. Dearborn Street
 13th Floor (HR-11)
 Chicago, IL 60604
 (312) 886-7452
Region VI
First International Bldg.
1201 Elm Street
Dallas, TX 75270
(214) 655-6760
Region VII
726 Minnesota Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66101
(913) 236-2852
Region VIII
999 18th Street
One Denver PI..Suite 1300
Denver, CO 80202-2413
(303) 293-1496
Region IX
215 Fremont Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 974-8926
Region X
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 442-1260
                                                                                                                United States
                                                                                                                Environmental Protection
                                                                                                                Office of Solid 1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 February 1989
                                                                                                                 The   Garba

                                                                                                                An  Action  Agenda
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Printed on recycled paper.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ink is free of lead and cadmium.

The Garbage Problem Defined
                                                                  An Agenda for Action
Each of us throws away over 1,300 pounds of garbage
annually. In 1986, we Americans produced 158 million
tons of waste—enough to fill a convoy of 10-ton garbage
trucks reaching half way to the moon. And the convoy is
getting longer!

At the same time, we are running out of places to
dispose of our trash. The gap between what is produced
and where to safely and efficiently dispose of it has
become a national garbage problem.

What's in our garbage? Mostly it's ordinary paper and
yard wastes—leaves and grass, brush, and tree clip-
pings. Glass, metal, plastic, food, and organic wastes
comprise the remainder. Ourgarbage comes from our
homes, offices, and industries.

Currently almost all — 80% — of this garbage is landfilled.
By 1993, however, more than one-third of our landfills
will be full. Very few new landfills are being built
because people are alarmed about health and environ-
mental threats landfills may cause. The same fears
have limited the construction of new combustors—or
incinerators—and recycling facilities.

To add to the problem, only 10% of our waste is
recycled, even though  recycling can greatly reduce the
amount of trash needing disposal. And efforts by pro-
duct manufacturers to  design products with built-in
waste efficiency, including less packaging, have been
minimal. Shoppers—all of us—continue to buy for
convenience,  giving little thought to what happens to
the part we throw away. Asa result, our trash  problem
is mounting.

As we continue to produce more and more trash and find
fewer and fewer disposal sites, the cost of disposal is
soaring. Unable to find loca! sites, some cities are even
shipping their garbage elsewhere. Some communities
are paying over $100 a ton to  dispose of their garbage.
Closing the growing gap between the increasing
amount of garbage that we produce and the dwindling
number of places to discard it is a national challenge. To
meet that challenge, EPA has issued an action agenda to
help form a national consensus on how we, as a nation,
can deal with our growing garbage problem. The
agenda, briefly summarized below, emphasizes that
each of us has a key role in solving the problem. The
agenda's success.will require a partnership among
consumers, manufacturers, waste managers, and all
levels of government. EPA encourages everyone to help
carry out the agenda. The centerpiece of the Agenda
for Action is "integrated waste management."
What is Integrated Waste Management?

Integrated waste management is a tool local commu-
nities can use to reduce the garbage gap. Its compo-
nents are to

•  Reduce the toxicity and amount of waste.

•  Recycle, including composting.
•  Combust, with energy recovery.
•  Landfill.

In integrated waste management, each of the four parts
complements the others. Using the combination that
best addresses its own unique needs, each local com-
munity custom designs its own waste management
Guiding Principles
The action agenda also stems from strongly held EPA
views that
•  Planning and implementation of integrated waste
   management is best conducted at the state and
   local level.
•  A safe and permanent way must be found to
   eliminate the gap between the amount of waste and
   the handling capacity in landfills. Incinerators, and
   recycled material markets.
•  Reduction and reuse,  followed by recycling, are
   preferred methods for reducing the amount and tox-
   icity of waste to be landfilled or burned. EPA even set
   a 25% goal for reducing and recycling trash by 1992.
•  All waste management practices need to be safe.
Key Objectives
EPA has identified six key objectives to deal with the
garbage problem.

1.  Encourage participation in solving the waste
    problem through increased informational and
    educational efforts, technical assistance, and
    research. "How-to" guides for waste managers,
    educational materials for citizens, peer exchanges,
    and a national information clearinghouse are among
    the actions to improve decision making.

2.  Step up state and local integrated waste
    management planning. Cooperative planning
    among industry, individuals,  EPA, and state and
    local agencies can help close the gap.

3.  Increase "source reduction" activities. Minimiz-
    ing the volume of waste and toxicity of products and
    extending products' useful lives is what EPA means
    by "source  reduction." Waste audits, reduced
    packaging,  and the use of less toxic materials in pro-
    ducts are called for. Also, federal procurement prac-
    tices should reflect the source reduction objective.
4,  increase recycling. Recycling can divert a lot of
    waste from landfills and incinerators. To boost
    recycling, the Agenda for Action aims to stimulate
    stable markets for recyclables and compost, explore
    incentives, and promote buying recycled goods.

5.  Improve waste combustion safety. Safe com-
    bustion of trash can be a useful technique for reduc-
    ing wasteXrtunra and producing energy. Incinera-
    tion will be made safer through operator training,
    plans for ash disposal, and upgraded performance
                                                                                                                                6.  Improve landfill safety. To increase landfill safety,
                                                                                                                                    EPA intends to require that landfill design and
                                                                                                                                    operating standards be met and the Agency encour-
                                                                                                                                    ages operator training. Technical assistance will help
                                                                                                                                    waste managers upgrade landfills. Of course, we
                                                                                                                                    will all need to reduce the amount of waste that
                                                                                                                                    needs to be landfilled.