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  • Writer's pictureAnder Zabala

2019 Waste Data Exposed!

The nerd inside me had to look at zero waste from the data perspective, after all you can't evaluate how you are doing if you can't measure it. Waste, recycling, and recycling rates are measured in weights, and this metric has its limitations. It doesn't look at overall life cycle analysis and the individual impact of certain materials. The below data is in a way simplistic, it doesn't take into account the carbon metrics of certain materials; the sea impact of plastics, air pollution, pesticide impacts, water footprint or biodiversity impact. This is how recycling rates are measured in the UK and across the globe, checking the amount recycled (in kg), and comparing it to the total thrown away (recycling and waste) to work out a percentage.

I opened all the waste from the monthly jars we kept for 2019, and it took surprisingly longer than expected. I also had a 'moment' when all the non recyclable waste was on the floor. I had to remind myself this was for the entire 2019. The numbers are:

  • 5.72 kg of waste, that was 88% less waste than in 2018

  • 119 kg of recycling, that was 60% less recycling than in 2018

  • Recycling rate for our household went up from 89% to 98%

Weighing our waste each month was easier than you may think. Weight the content of the jars and the weight of the jar itself to get the total waste produced that month. The frustrating thing was bringing the waste (one light jar) from our holiday in May.

In November we did some DIY at home and changed our broken corridor lamp shades, made of glass, so we had a spike of 2.16 kg see below. The average for 2018 was 0.48 kg per month compared to the 4 kg we used to generate in 2018. The average London house produces 10 kg of waste per week, compared to our weekly waste of 0.11kg, 99% less .

I know, I know, comparisons aren't always great, as everyone is different, but I had to start from somewhere. The below graph is also waste by weight. Ours for 2019 was about 6 kg, and our recycling (dry and food waste) was 263 kg, this is about half of what an average house produces in a year. The recycling rates for London are still low at 24%. These are low for many reasons, but it would go up a lot if more houses recycled their food waste.

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