Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling


Solid waste disposal is regarded as an essential service. Its availability for supporting a newly proposed project is an essential determinant of whether a project should proceed. Generally, trucks transport solid waste materials to a common, usually remote, site for either recycling, compost, burial/disposal in a sanitary landfill, or incineration (where allowed). In assessing this service, consider three factors:

  • The proximity of the service to appropriate disposal sites
  • The disposal site capacity to accommodate the types and quantities of wastes that the project may generate both during construction and upon completion
  • The likely disposal site’s climate resilience, including its susceptibility to erosion and flooding from sea level rise

Important Considerations

Construction Period

  1. What types and amounts of waste will the project generate as construction debris?
  2. What solid waste disposal system or company will handle the construction debris? Does it have the capacity to handle the amount of debris?

Solid Waste Disposal/Recycling

  1. What types of solid waste (including hazardous waste, if any) will the completed project generate?
  2. What is the name of the solid waste servicing company or landfill and what is the distance from the proposed project site?
  3. Is solid waste permitting required for the project?
  4. If it is hazardous waste, does the servicing company/landfill accept hazardous waste? If yes, attach documentation.
  5. What organization will handle garbage collection, composting, and recycling? Does this organization have the capacity to handle all services? Are these services affordable?
  6. Will the waste from the proposal exceed the capacity of the waste system or landfill?

Analysis Techniques

An inventory of landfill locations and capacities with estimated life expectancies can aid in determining adequate disposal capabilities.

Adverse effects are likely if:

  • The estimated solid waste generation will significantly reduce the life span of local solid waste disposal facilities (recycling plants, landfills, composting plants, etc.)
  • The estimated solid waste generation will significantly overtax the existing collection system(s)
  • The projected future costs of continued service will far exceed the financial capacity of users

Positive effects are likely if:

  • The estimated solid waste is reduced because of active recycling and composting on the site
  • The estimated solid waste is reduced because minimal waste is created by the project
  • The estimated solid waste is neutral because the project involves rehabilitation of an existing structure and no new uses are planned

If applicable, determine if recycling and/or composting can be added to the project design and operation and maintenance of the project.

Additional Considerations

Local ordinances will dictate solid waste disposal for the project. There could be requirements for the size of the waste container for the project as well as if it needs to be in a covered structure. Local ordinances might also require recycling or organic removal from the waste stream prior to disposal.

Mitigation Measures

If there is a problem with the capacity of an existing or planned system, alternatives to explore include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Using better compaction methods to reduce the volume of waste
  • Expanding the capacity of recycling facilities, including what types of recyclable materials they may take and process
  • Exploring organic waste composting opportunities
  • Expanding the existing landfill site if no other feasible strategy can be incorporated
  • Investigating the re-use of materials as appropriate and as resources allow

If composting is a feasible option, some composted materials can be reused in landscaping with proper treatment.

If transportation to the site is a problem due to insufficient collection vehicles, solutions include either contracting with a private collection service or purchasing new collection trucks.

Resources to Reference/Experts to Contact

  • Engineer — local Solid Waste Disposal Agency, or City/County Engineering Department
  • Engineer/Planner — HUD Field Office or local Planning Department
  • Engineer or Planner/Environmental Specialist — regional EPA Office