Tracking of national municipal solid waste (MSW) generation rates began in 1960. At that time, the average rate was 2.7 lbs. per person per day.
The national MSW per capita rate has been steadily increasing over the past decade. In 2010, our per capita MSW rate stood at 3.94. Our most
recent data from 2020 shows that this number has increased to 4.73 lbs. per person per day.
Designed to bury trash, not break it down, landfill contents last a long time. When a landfill closes, the site, especially the groundwater, must be
monitored and maintained for up to 30 years! In West Virginia, few existing landfill sites are designed to meet the new guidelines for municipal
solid waste disposal.
There are several strategies to reduce the amount of MSW that gets disposed of in our state’s landfills. The most environmentally preferred
strategy is source reduction or waste prevention. This strategy saves natural resources, conserves energy, reduces pollution, and can lead to cost
savings for consumers. The second preferred strategy is recycling and composting. This approach saves energy compared to using raw materials,
conserves resources, and reduces the need for new landfills. The third strategy is energy recovery. This strategy consists of the conversion of
non-recyclable materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization,
anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas (LFG) recovery. This process is also known as Waste to Energy or WTE.