For three weeks each summer, Pierce County staff sorts through the
county's trash. We do this to get a better understanding of exactly what
goes into our landfill and track how it changes over time.
This project captures just how much garbage going into the landfill from
homes and businesses could actually be reduced, reused or recycled. The
data collected, when combined with customer feedback and information
from other regional studies, will help us create and evaluate effective
strategies for reducing waste and increasing recycling in Pierce County.
Our Do-it-Yourself Approach
Being able to do the work in-house reduces the cost of sorting, so we
can afford to do it annually. More frequent sorts provide more accurate
information in real time, and are a more responsive way to evaluate our
By sorting the trash ourselves, we have a very clear picture of what's
in it. What we learn by tracking the trends in our waste stream will
contribute to the design of future programs that help us work together
to reduce waste and get recyclables out of the garbage.
Chris Brown Project Manager Email or (253) 798-4659
Read the Full Report
How a waste sort works
1. Random samples are taken from garbage trucks and from loads brought
directly to the transfer station from residents and businesses.
2. Each sample is weighed to be sure it is about 200 pounds.
3. The sample is spread out onto a table to be sorted by hand into different categories.
4. There are 64 categories total, like food waste, clothing, batteries and plastic bottles.
5. The weight of each category of material is recorded.
6. The containers are reset and another sort begins.