Dumpster Diving

This can be the most accurate method of breaking down the types and amounts of waste in a specific business' disposal system. It can also be the messiest.

You will need:

  • Gloves
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • A notepad and pencil
  • A large open space (the dock area after work, the main lobby, a cleared section of a storage area).
  • A scale
  • Spare garbage bags

Keep a day's worth of garbage out of the dumpster. Set out the bagged material where employees can see it (this increases awareness). Choose a time (during or after work) to open the bagged waste and begin sorting it. Spreading the plastic drop-cloths on the floor, begin placing all office paper (copy paper, junk mail, magazines, newspaper, computer paper) in one area, place cardboard in another area, place recyclable beverage containers such as glass bottles, plastic bottles or aluminum cans in a third area. Designate a plastic bag for wet food waste. Try to place disposable food wrappings (take-out cups, Styrofoam, paper sandwich or French fry containers, etc.) in a separate area. Segregate additional materials as you determine them to play a significant role in the waste stream (such as bathroom waste, kitchen scraps, textiles, broken pallets, reusable pallets)

Once you've completed the sorting, write down the list of categories you've created on the notepad. Then bag each material and weigh it (you may have to stand on the scale alone and then with each bag (subtract your weight) to get the most accurate weight for each material. Record the weights in the appropriate category on the notepad.

Now, carefully toss the non-recyclable materials into your dumpster. Use chalk to mark the amount of space the bags fill. Is it most of the space, half the space, or less? If you instituted a recycling program, this would be your goal disposal amount.

Toss in items you are less likely to recycle next. Stop and record the space used. This is all the space you really need on a daily basis if you recycle. Write this down. Next, measure your dumpster. This can be done from the inside or outside- length, times width, times height, provide the cubic space per day of disposal capacity you require with a recycling program in place.

Finally, you may throw the remaining bags in the dumpster or take the recyclables to a recycling drop-off since you already separated them!



Will County Land Use Department
Will County - Land Use Department - Resource Recovery & Energy
58 E. Clinton Street, Joliet, IL 60432

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