Enviromental Science Lab
Lab 4—Municipal Solid Waste
In this exercise, you will determine the amount and type of municipal solid waste (MSW) that your household produces, and compare it to the Canadian average.
1. Gather all the garbage and solid waste produced by your household for one week. Rather than throw all the garbage away, sort and separate it into the categories listed in the table below, placing each type in different bags or containers.
2. Weigh each bag or container at the end of the week and record your results in a table such as the one below.
Type of solid waste Weight (kg) % Weight of MSW per person
Recyclable (e.g., beverage containers, plastic milk jugs, cardboard, etc. . . )
Organic compostable (e.g., food scraps that are compostable)
Refuse (e.g., suitable for the landfill)
Yard waste (e.g., grass clippings)
• You may want to keep the garbage outside while collecting it. Make sure that animals (pests) can’t get into the bags or containers.
• For organic compostable waste, you can fill smaller containers and weigh them as they fill up. To get the total, add up the weights at the end of the week.
• For yard waste, it might be easiest to weigh smaller bags as the waste is generated, and add up the weights to get the total.
• A bathroom scale is a convenient way to measure the weights.
Your report should consist of the following components
• A brief introductory statement
• Your data tables
• Digital photos showing your household waste
• A discussion of how your household data compares to the data listed in the textbook with respect to proportion of different types of waste and waste produced per person.
• A paragraph describing how you might apply the results to reduce your household MSW without changing your quality of life.