By the Bureau of Solid Waste Management

Do you ever wonder what types of materials wind up in the trash? Here at the Bureau of Solid Waste Management, we sure do. The best way to find out is to just take a look! This July, in partnership with Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, the County conducted a waste composition audit. A waste audit is the process of formally quantifying the amounts and types of things that are being disposed of. Our purpose for the audit was to identify what materials had the potential to be recycled or composted and to guide our efforts to divert waste. 

We went to our Central Acceptance Facility in Cockeysville and got to work. This one-season audit looked into the County’s single-family waste composition. The information we learned sure was interesting. Organics were almost 50 percent of the collected materials, making it the plurality of the materials in the collected waste. Organic waste can potentially be eliminated by backyard composting, grasscycling, thinking twice before throwing foods away and freezing leftovers.

The second largest portion of material was paper, accounting for 20 percent of the waste stream. Paper is another material that can be recycled. Keeping a recycling bin near, printing only what you need and opting for paperless documents are all ways to avoid paper waste. The remaining materials were about half inorganics and plastic. Some plastics can be recycled.

From this audit, we can conclude that the majority of the collected waste could have been diverted. Instead of sending materials to the landfill, we can recycle or compost them. To learn more about recycling and waste prevention options in the County, visit our website.