Invited Session: Circular Economy
Accounting for Non-hazardous Industrial Waste in the United States
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
14:45 – 15:15
In contrast to municipal waste, non-hazardous industrial waste (NHIW) is vastly under-studied, owing in part to a lack of a U.S. federal mandate to track its management and the nature of its production, which limits even simplified top-down estimates using economic data. In fact, confidence in any official or popularly accepted NHIW estimates crumbles under even modest interrogation, leaving behind a major gap in the national accounting of material flows that is essential to gauge progress towards resource and materials management goals. On the basis of a broad array of data sources and models, we present a method to populate the first reliable, economy-wide account of NHIW in the U.S. Our results reflect a robust, repeatable and updatable estimate of roughly 300 million metric tons per year. Our approach evaluates NHIW generation quantity and composition at the industry level and disposition (landfilling, recycling, and beneficial use) at the state level. With such detail, opportunities for increased circularity can be systematically identified whereby underutilized wastes (such as ash, slag, sludge, etc.) can be effectively substituted for raw materials in other sectors, thereby taking strides towards a more sustainable materials management.
Following this presentation, the audience will be able to:
- COMPREHEND non-hazardous industrial waste flows in the U.S.
- EXAMINE newly-developed approaches to understand non-hazardous industrial waste flows and understand higher and better uses compared to current management
- COMPARE industrial waste generation, recycling, disposal and beneficial use behavior from industry to industry and from state to state
- APPRECIATE the importance of effective waste accounting in both measuring and enabling transitions to a more circular economy
- ENVISION new opportunities for the large-scale beneficial use and recycling of non-hazardous industrial waste