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Solid Waste Composition and Characterization

MSW Materials Composition in New York State

This page is intended to aid communities in evaluating appropriate materials management strategies and implementing the state's solid waste management hierarchy.

In 2008, facilities in New York State managed a total of more than 36 million tons of materials and waste, as depicted in this table.

Materials and Waste Management in NYS, 2008
MSW Industrial C&D Biosolids Total
Mtons* % Mtons* % Mtons* % Mtons* % Mtons* %
Recycle/
Compost
3.7 20 1.4 39 7.2 55 0.9 47 13.1 36
Landfill 6.0 33 2.1 60 4.1 32 0.3 17 12.5 34
Combustion 2.5 14 <0.1 1 <0 10 0.4 24 3.0 8
Export for Disposal 6.1 33 <0.1 0 1.7 13 0.2 12 8.0 22
Total 18.3 100 3.5 100 13 100 1.8 100 36.6 100

*Mtons=Million Tons

Because no one study is directly transferable, data from multiple sources were compiled and aggregated to create the DEC composition estimate. After a careful review of dozens of composition analyses, the data from the following sources were used:

  • Municipalities within New York State: New York City and Onondaga Co. Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA)
  • Municipalities in other states: Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA
  • Other States: Vermont, Wisconsin, Missouri, Georgia, Oregon, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and California

ESTIMATED MSW GENERATED

DEC Estimates of MSW Generation in New York State

The estimated composition of materials generated by the residential and commercial/institutional sector is presented in Figure 1. They are:

  • Paper - 33 percent
  • Glass - 4 percent
  • Plastics - 14 percent
  • Metals - 7 percent
  • Organics - 23 percent
  • Textiles - 5 percent
  • Wood - 3 percent
  • Other - 11 percent

MSW composition estimate includes data on tires and scrap metal that are generated as part of the MSW stream

MSW composition estimate does not include:

  • separately managed C&D debris,
  • several organics streams (biosolids, septage, agricultural materials, etc.),
  • industrial waste,
  • medical and biohazardous materials
  • tires and scrap metal managed outside of the MSW management structures.

ESTIMATED MATERIALS DISCARDED IN NEW YORK STATE

DEC estimates of the composition of discarded materials MSW

Figure 2 depicts DEC's estimate of the composition of materials discarded in New York State. These are:

  • Paper - 27 percent
  • Glass - 3 percent
  • Plastics - 17 percent
  • Metals - 6 percent
  • Organics - 24 percent
  • Textiles - 6 percent
  • Wood - 4 percent
  • Other - 13 percent

Disposal data can inform program managers regarding how well their programs are capturing targeted materials and can help identify targets to maximize diversion.

For example, about 20 percent of material disposed of in New York State is paper that is commonly recycled in many municipal programs which indicates that programs are not achieving optimal capture rates.

Composition Calculators

Downloadable Microsoft Excel files containing detailed model composition data. Useful for planning units to estimate their own waste stream composition.

User Tip:
If you have a problem viewing these spreadsheets while in Excel try the following: Go to View then Full Screen and you should see the worksheets.

MSW Composition Analysis (Excel file, 66 kb) - This spreadsheet includes a Statewide Solid Waste Composition Analysis, including breakdowns for rural, urban and suburban areas.

MSW Detailed Composition Analysis for 2010 (Excel file, 132 kb) - This is an MSW spreadsheet with certain fields in which a municipality or Solid Waste Planning Unit can enter specific information about the MSW stream to develop an estimated waste composition for the specific geographic area.

Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Detailed Composition Analysis for 2010 (Excel file, 65 kb) - This is a C&D debris spreadsheet with certain fields in which a municipality or Solid Waste Planning Unit can enter specific information about the C&D debris stream to develop an estimated waste composition for the specific geographic area.


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  • Contact for this Page
  • NYSDEC
    Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Permitting and Planning
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7260
    518-402-8678
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