According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2012 the average American discarded 2.8 pounds of trash per day in addition to 1.5 pounds of yard waste and recyclables. Though modern landfills are generally better on the environment and less smelly than the open-aired dumps of yesteryear, they're not foolproof. A leaky landfill can allow toxic chemicals to leach into the groundwater table. More prominently, organic processes that occur as garbage within a fill is naturally broken down generate large quantities of methane gas, which is a potent contributor to global warming. Monroe County had a recycling rate of 33 % in 2013, the most recent year for which data has been made available by the state Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, the DEP gave the county recycling credit for an additional 21 % of its waste, which was being incinerated at a waste-to-energy site. On another front, in February the County awarded an interim yard waste hauling contract to the provider Energy 3. The company will compost the waste for up to 30 months. Eventually, the County plans to take the refuge to a cutting-edge gasification plant proposed to be built in Miami-Dade County, where it will be turned into renewable electricity.
Which of the following steps would you like to see local government undertake first in order to reduce the local waste stream?
(image from The Chewonki Foundation)
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