June 2016 
environmental education made easy

"If you aren't measuring the right things to begin with, you're not going to get better results by measuring them more accurately."
by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers

Are you measuring the "right things?" As markets for recyclables tighten up and as funding sources for waste diversion programs dry up in many communities, it is important for solid waste management programs to be able to accurately share the success and importance of their work. Showing success requires metrics, but are the right metrics being used?

A recent WasteDIVE post cited below argues for the use of life cycle analysis instead of the old yardstick: tons diverted divided by tons generated. Read this month's feature article to see how your community "measures up."

Keep diverting that waste!

Elizabeth Roe
Eco Partners
Life Cycle Analysis Is the New Yardstick
Photo credit: @iStock.com | Eileen Hart

For years, we have measured waste management programs using tons diverted divided by tons generated, but Oregon says that's not the best way.

In a recent WasteDIVE post, Arlene Karidis recounts the history of measurement for waste diversion programs and how life cycle analysis gives a clearer picture of success.

Two experts she quotes had this to say: "Through the current weight-based accounting system, all methods of recovery are equal [when it comes to cutting emissions]. All materials are equal. All markets are equal," said David Allaway, senior policy analyst for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality. But this is a flawed view of waste management. Instead, Oregon is moving to a "life cycle analysis."

"Life cycle gives us a quantitative framework to estimate the overall environmental harm or benefits associated with different processing alternatives. And it looks at individual products' environmental impact from cradle to grave," explained Jim Levis, a North Carolina State University researcher in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. Using life cycle analysis can reveal the environmental tradeoffs of waste management decisions. 

To read more about this new measurement tool, read the full article.

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