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What is Municipal Solid Waste? And How You Can Help Reduce It? General Kinematics
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What Is Municipal Waste (MSW)

 by General Kinematics,

At General Kinematics, we understand that creating a brighter future means providing products that make life better. That’s why we’re proud to help municipal solid waste programs around the world with our innovative equipment and services.

Municipal waste programs are the foundation of any civilized society — but how much time have you spent considering the role that municipal waste plays in our daily lives? What is municipal solid waste? Where does it go? And why is it important to keep in mind every day?

What Is Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)?

To answer the question, “What exactly is municipal solid waste?” In a nutshell, it’s garbage. Everything from the food wrappers you throw away to the batteries you properly dispose of. Everything that ends up in a garbage can is considered municipal solid waste.

Typically, waste ends up in one of three places: a landfill, a recycling plant, or a compost pile. The destination all depends on how the waste is sorted. The machinery used to sort the waste must be of the highest quality to ensure that everything from leftover food to discarded concrete is sorted and disposed of properly. That’s why MSW systems around the world rely on General Kinematics to help keep the heart of their operations processing material effectively.

Additionally, there are ways that communities are turning waste into energy. 

Transforming Waste To Energy

When a waste management vehicle collects non-recyclable material from homes or businesses, it is transported to a waste-to-energy plant where it is transformed into energy. When a truck arrives, the load is unloaded into a rubbish storage bunker and processed by an overhead crane. Once the trash has been separated, it is ready to go through the combustion process, which is the most common and oldest thermal process.

Other methods of converting energy include:

Gasification: The conversion of waste materials into a mixture of flammable gases in an oxygen-depleted atmosphere (as opposed to combustion, which takes place in an oxygen-rich environment).

Pyrolysis: Similar to gasification, except the temperature is higher. Whereas gasification employs high temperatures ranging from 900 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, pyrolysis uses relatively low temperatures ranging from 600 to 1,499 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fermentation: Microorganisms and yeast convert biomass and biowaste into liquid ethanol. Distilled ethanol is used to create biofuel grade ethanol, ethyl alcohol.

Facts About Municipal Waste in the U.S.

In the United States, MSW is a force unlike anywhere else in the world.

  • The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day – which is down from approximately 4.7 pounds in 2006.
  • More than 700,000 tons of MSW is created daily. In 2014, that amounted to 258 million tons of garbage.
  • The United States also manages to recycle 1.5 pounds of individually created waste each day.
  • The average recycling rate in the U.S. is approximately 33-35 percent.

Given how much garbage we generate, it’s extremely important to ensure that we’re doing all we can as individuals to decrease the amount of garbage we produce on a daily basis.

Ways to Minimize Your Personal Garbage Production

If you’re thinking about ways to reduce your daily garbage production, here are some simple tips to keep in mind.

  • Take reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid using their wasteful paper or plastic options.
  • Avoid individually wrapped items at the store.
  • Consider composting your scraps and food waste rather than throwing it away.
  • Believe it or not, shopping at secondhand stores is a great way to reduce your creation of new garbage.
  • When possible, buy items packaged in recyclable materials.

On a company level or larger scale, consider some of these ideas for reducing your waste production:

  • Reduce the amount of packaging for products.
  • Eliminate the use of water bottles within your facility.
  • Consider going paperless
  • Start a company-wide recycling program that includes composting.  

It’s just a matter of getting in the habit of mindfulness to transform yourself into an active supporter of a healthy environmental future. To learn more about MSW and the innovative solutions offered by General Kinematics, contact us today!

General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, was established to market, design, and custom fabricate innovative vibratory equipment for the foundry, recycling, mining, and processing industries. Today the company continues as one of the world’s largest suppliers of vibratory processing equipment and has evolved into an industry-leading EPC firm. Headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL, General Kinematics has seven global locations providing engineering and support to a world-wide customer base. GK is a third generation, family-owned company and is ISO 9001 certified.