Updated conversion factors

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  • Post category:waste

Not long ago I posted my first stab at converting my household waste weight to volume (find that here). I reached out to the folks I work with to see if there were more up-to-date numbers I could use and they sent me the EPA’s 2016 update, for which I’m grateful. The big change I can discern is that recyclables not including paper are assumed to weigh less than they did in 1997 due to “lightweighting”, which makes a ton of sense (ha!). 

I’ve adjusted my numbers to reflect the EPA’s changes. It’s not an apples-to-oranges update. Food waste was a broader category in 1997. I’m now using their guidance for commercial source-separated organics as my number. I’ve left paper the same since they haven’t provided a new number for household comingled waste, and I’ve adopted the mid-point of their new assumed range for household loose garbage. I like the new shares that are now skewed more heavily to glass, plastic and metal recycling by volume. In my first calculation, I determined those to be almost 30% of our waste volume. In the new calculation, that’s almost 40%. 

These new numbers are now what’s reflected in my updates here.