United States
Environmental Protection
Solid Waste and
Emergency Response
September 1998
WasteWise  Partnership

Benefits  Climate  Change

   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 lower greenhouse gas emissions from these actions, as well as for other envi-
ronmental benefits, EPA is encouraging waste reduction efforts through its WasteWise
                                       EPA REGION 1 LIBRARY
                                         JFK FEDERAL BLDG.
      $ince January 1994,  EPA has  been
      working  in  partnership   with
      American businesses; state, local, and
      tribal governments; and institutions to
 reduce municipal solid waste. Presently, more
 dian 800 organizations 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
 voluntary  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. By recycling, WasteWise
 partners divert materials  from disposal.
 They commit to initiate, expand, or improve
 company programs to collect recyclables. For
                                         to an
           existing program or boost recycling rates by
           educating employees or the community.

           •   Buying or manufacturing recycled
           products. WasteWise partners can play a
           key role in assimilating recycled materials
             into consumer markets. They commit to
               purchasing products with recycled
                 content. Manufacturers may  also
                 raise  the percentage  of postcon-
                 sumer materials in the  products
                 they make.

              WasteWise partners design their own
           solid waste reduction programs, tailored to
           meet their needs and operations. Partners
           monitor their progress during a 3-year peri-
           od 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 sup-
           port services. EPA  also publicly recognizes
           individual organizations and program suc-
  Printed on paper that contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fiber.

         The   three  cornerstones   of  WasteWise—
         waste prevention, recycling, and buying recy-
         cled—are among the most effective ways
         to slash die 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    *
             they  really  need.
              And  as these organi-
                zations  prevent more
                            waste and
                            recycle more
                            materials,  fewer
                            greenhouse   gases
                            are emitted into the   '
For mo
information on WasteWise,
call the WasteWise helpline
at 1-800-EPA-WISE or go to
www.epa.gov/wastewise. For
more information on climate
change, including climate
change and waste reduction, you
can access EPA s Web site on
global warming at:
                            Waste  prevention,  in
                              particular, can greatly
                              reduce  the  emission
                              of greenhouse gases
                              by  conserving  raw
                              materials   and  the
                              energy  expended to
                             retrieve,  process,  and
                            manufacture them  into
products. In addition, waste prevention keeps materials
out of landfills and incinerators. Certain materials gener-
ate greenhouse gases as they degrade in landfills or burn
in incinerators. Overall, waste prevention provides more
climate change benefits than any other waste manage-
ment option.

By boosting their  recycling efforts,  WasteWise  partners
keep valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators. In
particular, many organizations have  increased their recy-
cling of office paper and  corrugated containers.  Keeping
paper  products out of landfills cuts methane emissions.
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 wood.
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 dian virgin materials con-
                                                            sumes less energy.

                                                            How much of an impact is WasteWise having on climate
                                                            change? In 1997, Waste Wise partners documented some
                                                            816,000 tons of waste material reduced, including corru-
                                                            gated cardboard, wood, metal, and paper. They also recy-
                                                            cled over 6.8 million torts of waste, including steel, wood,
                                                            paper,  cardboard, and  other  items.  In  climate change
                                                            terms, this  is having a tremendous impact: The combined
                                                            recycling and waste prevention efforts of  the WasteWise
                                                            partners in 1997 alone prevented nearly 5.2 million met-
                                                            ric tons of carbon  equivalent  (MTCE, the basic unit of
                                                            measure for greenhouse gases) that would  otherwise have
                                                            been released into the atmosphere. That's  like preventing
                                                            the  average annual emissions from  electric power ton-
                                                            sumption of roughly 3.1 million households.