Business as Usual
The Johnston Landfill is estimated to reach capacity in 2030, and our current waste management system is simply unsustainable.
We need more products to be recycled and taken out of the waste stream, but we can't leave that burden solely to Rhode island cities and towns. We need manufacturers to be engaged in taking back their products, and to create green jobs by recycling them into new products.
Business as Usual
When it comes to waste management, business as usual has meant that most manufacturers do not pay anything to cover the cost of disposal or recycling of their products. Once manufacturers make a product and ship it to a retailer, they can forget about it. In fact, they're designing products to be thrown away, and municipalities and taxpayers are the ones picking up the tab, in more ways than one.
- We pay a monetary cost. It is expensive to safely manage modern waste. Since manufacturers are making so many disposable and inexpensive products, there is a lot more waste to take care of. Municipalities, through taxes and fees, end up paying for their collection and disposal.
- We pay an environmental cost. A lot of solid waste contains hazardous and toxic materials. Products that aren't properly recycled can leach heavy metals, contaminate water, and poison local environments.
- We pay a social cost. All of these disposable products require a tremendous amount of raw material, most of which is mined in developing areas of the world. Consequently, much of the hazardous waste we do collect is shipped overseas to be dangerously disassembled.
A Linear Waste Stream
The nature of our waste system is linear. Products are purchased and disposed of, and the majority of that waste ends up in our landfills. Some of it is recycled, but most ends up in the ground. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation estimates that the Central Landfill in Johnston has only 25 years left until it reaches capacity. After that, we will have to find another place to put our waste - unless we find a new way.