Table of Trash Types and Percentages

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Trash Type

Percentage

Tonnage

paper

40.4%

71.6 million tons

yard trimmings

17.6%

31.6 million tons

metals

8.5%

15.3 million tons

plastics

8.0%

14.4 million tons

food scraps

7,4%

13.2 million tons

glass

7.0%

12.5 million tons

other

11.1%

20.8 million tons

» ■

Is that good enough? "Not even close," answered Myers.

The reason for his apprehension is that California's population is booming. By 2050, according to a state report issued this week, the population will soar to 60 million from 36 million now. "We're looking at that," Myers said, "and we're thinking, 'Wow, that's going to be a lot of trash.'"

One man's trash, of course, is another's treasure. Daniel Waldman, publisher of MSW Management, a California trade journal for waste-management professionals, said the garbage industry foresees new techniques and technologies to convert garbage into energy.

He also envisions businesses that profit by focusing on recycling and conservation. "This is a significant problem, but it's also a significant opportunity," Waldman said.

Murray at Californians Against Waste believes we have to be even more proactive. Part of his solution to our garbage woes is to build disposal costs into the retail price of consumer goods. You buy a computer, you'll pay up front for its eventual demise. Same with an iPod, or a pair of sneakers, or whatever.

"You're paying for it anyway," Murray said. "You're paying for it in your taxes. If we paid for it up front, maybe we'd make better purchasing decisions."

"Think of all the resources and energy that goes into all these products," he added. "We're just generating too much junk."

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