With all of the discussion about the potential new landfill in Gregory Canyon, it is worth taking a look at alternative waste streams. Strategies include repurpose, redeployment and recycle. Though the strongest strategy is not to purchase. Each of these strategies are part of a system to delay the need to turn this large space of land into a dump.
Repurposing often happens naturally, it is taking an item and reassigning it to a new task or purpose. In a home this might be taking a designer bath towel and cutting it up for the rag box. In industry, it may mean demoting a production line from the main line to an overflow, for use in high demand production only.
Redeployment is directing an item that is no longer needed at your location to a new user. In the home this may mean a garage sale or donation to a thrift shop. In industry, a new owner is found for the equipment. There is a thriving secondary market for equipment from the biotech, medical, and manufacturing industries. Often times a reseller will send dialysis machines to Eastern Europe or laboratory equipment to growing businesses in India. It may mean the boss gets a new computer so the admin gets her old one. In large corporations redeployment within the company can save significant capital expenses, if tracked and managed well. It is not unusual for a corporation to be contracting in one division and growing in another leading to the scenario where one division is buying computers while another is discarding. Office furniture is commonly redeployed, rather than land filled. One option for redeployment of office furniture and products is non-profits who need furniture but operate on a tighter budget.
Recycling of items means removing them from use and converting them into raw materials that are then the building blocks for new products. Here in California there is an aspirational goal to recycle 75% of our trash. In the home this means: filling the recycle bin with all the cardboard boxes, cans, and plastics, setting the landscaping greens curbside and in some areas, like San Francisco, separating out food. All of these are then processed by the recycling center. When it is time to dispose of computers, televisions and other electronics the local recycling event works well. Industry must deal with the recycling of computers in a secure manner, so it is essential that the recycler provides strict accountability for their receipt and destruction by weight. Often computers are processed that have hard drives that contain sensitive or confidential information and proof that the items were destroyed in a secure manner, that does not lead to a public relations nightmare is paramount. In addition to the PR concern about information stored on the computers , it is essential that items are not handled in a hazardous environment by children, as can happen in some overseas recyclers. A reputable recycler will be able to provide an audited landfill diversion report, which provides details of the weight of the recycled materials. If an organization is certified by e-stewards, R2 or ISO14001 they can NOT send material overseas.
In the reduce, reuse, recycle process that reduces the need for landfill, the simplest and sometimes the hardest is the reduce. Simply not buying a product prevents it from the possibility of ending up in the landfill. However, because it is often not the product, but the packaging that is a hard to avoid land filling. Think of all the Styrofoam that is used in the packaging of electronics. It still has limited recycling.