So assuming by some Disney-like fantasy accounting, or maybe even an Orwellian governmental recounting of what happens to waste, your municipality might – best case – have a legitimate 70% recovery rate.

Sounds fabulous.  Take the kids out for coffee and ice cream.

Unfortunately, again, this is where the math comes in.

That 70% represents just 35% of the waste generated in your city or town.

And remember, this isn’t just happening where you live and work.  It’s everywhere and anywhere.  Municipal governments are responsible for only about 35% of the waste stream.

The rest belongs to business.

And consider this:

If the city is responsible for just 35% of the waste stream and they only recycle 50%, then they only recycle 17% of all the garbage in the city.

And assuming that business is doing all it can – and it is considerable – where do we stand?

Well, the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sectors are a mixed bag, with a recycling rate ranging from abysmal to not-bad-at-all.  So let’s say, all-in, it averages around 30%.

(And it must be said that the 30% is highly optimistic, if not entirely aspirational.)

Well then the recovery rate in your town for both residential and business is now standing at around 43%.

That’s it.

Not nearly as much as you think from where you live, and nowhere near as much as required from where you work.

And worse yet, it’s defined by some severe structural constraints.

Resulting in a number (for a range of reasons) a million miles from zero waste.

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