Fluctuations in Solid Waste Quantities

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Weakness in the economy generally reduces the quantity of solid waste generated. This reduction is particularly true for commercial and industrial MSW and construction and demolition debris. Data quantifying the effect of economic downturns on solid waste quantity are not readily available.

The generation of solid waste is usually greater in warm weather than in cold weather. Figure 10.3.1 shows two month-to-month patterns of MSW generation. The less variable pattern is a composite of data from eight locations with cold or moderately cold winters (Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. 1992, 1991; Child, Pollette, and Flosdorf 1986; Cosulich Associates 1988; HDR Engineering, Inc. 1989; Killam Associates 1990; North Hempstead 1986; Oyster Bay 1987). Waste generation is relatively low in the winter but rises with temperature in the spring. The surge of waste generation in the spring is caused both by increased human activity, including spring cleaning, and renewed plant growth and associated yard waste. Waste generation typically declines somewhat after June but remains above average until mid to late fall. In contrast, Figure 10.3.1 also shows the pattern of waste generation in Cape May County, New Jersey, a summer resort area (Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. 1991). The annual influx of tourists overwhelms all other influences of waste generation.

Areas with mild winters may display month-to-month patterns of waste generation similar to the cold-winter pattern shown in Figure 10.3.1 but with a smaller difference between the winter and spring/summer rates. On the other hand, local factors can create a distinctive pattern not generally seen in other areas, as in Sarasota, Florida (Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. 1990). The surge of activity and plant growth in the spring is less marked in mild climates,

Month of Year

Key:

FIG. 10.3.1 Month-to-month variation in MSW generation rate.

Month of Year

Key:

FIG. 10.3.1 Month-to-month variation in MSW generation rate.

and local factors can cause the peak of waste generation to occur in any season of the year.

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