Summary of current solid waste management practices for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.
A person living on the Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation on the average creates 2.5 pounds of municipal solid wastes per day. This means that a person living on the Reservation generates approximately 913 pounds, or 0.5 ton, of municipal solid wastes in a year. Multiplying this number by the estimated number of people living on the Reservation in 1998 shows that approximately 2400 tons of municipal solid wastes were created on the Reservation.
Where did all this municipal solid wastes go after it was created? Businesses and households on the Reservation make their own arrangements with non-tribal haulers for collection of their municipal solid wastes. Previous studies conducted by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) Environment Division have shown that this arrangement is not the best and approximately half of the municipal solid wastes (1200 tons per year) gets burned or buried on the Reservation by people generating the municipal solid wastes. The other half of the materials are picked up by the non-tribal haulers and transported off the Reservation.
The SRMT recognizes that if a change is not made in the way that municipal solid wastes are managed the current approach, reliance on outside haulers, combined with the projected 20 year municipal solid waste generation rate will lead to: an increase in open dumping and burning, thereby increasing health and environmental risks to the Reservation; and create economic hardship for the majority of the people who live with very low to low incomes. This has led the SRMT to develop an all-encompassing municipal solid waste management program which emphasizes the use of 3 Rs programs followed by proper disposal methods.
Three R Programs
Implementing 3Rs programs (Waste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling) decreases the amount of municipal solid wastes that needs disposing, reduces the cost of disposal, and minimizes the negative environmental impacts associated with disposal.
Waste Reduction is the practice of creating less municipal solid waste or decreasing the toxicity of the municipal solid waste which needs disposing. Creating less waste means you don't have to worry about how to get rid of it. Waste reduction is generally accomplished by changing your personal behavior. For example, Kwis & Tiio show that changing your buying habits reduces the amount of wastes.
Reuse is the process of using a certain material over again for the same purpose for which is was originally designed, or utilizing it for a different purpose. Recycling is where used materials are collected and utilized in the manufacturing of new materials, thereby saving on the quantity of virgin materials required to make these new products.