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Waste and recycling tracking

I generally try hard to minimise my environmental impact, but it can be a challenge without being aware of the actual effect that daily decisions have. Now that I live in a one-person flat, I'm much more conscious of exactly how much energy I use, how much stuff I consume, how many possessions I accumulate and how much waste all this activity produces.

I've therefore decided to keep track of how much waste I produce much more accurately. My apartment block in Tampere, Finland, provides bins for six types of waste: paper, card, glass, metal, compost and general waste. Everything except the last of these can be recycled (although whether the council does or not, I don't know). In addition, Finland has an exemplary network for financially-incentivised bottle and can returns, with return stations in pretty much every grocery shop. Each week I therefore find myself splitting my waste into eight different categories. It's a fair bit of effort, so taking weight measurements aswell isn't such a big deal.

The following graph shows my daily waste output based on data I collect roughly once per week. I plan to update it weekly. The area under the graph represents my total waste output. Click on the graph for a larger version.

 

Daily waste data histocurve

 

Some brief points to note about the graph:

  1. The daily average, calculated since the start, is shown in the vertical bar on the right hand side.
  2. All of the green items are recyclable and should be recycled by the council. The general waste in red isn't recycled.
  3. There's only me living in my flat, so this is output for a single person.
  4. I'll continue updating the graph on this page every week.
  5. For info about how the graphs are generated, see my Graphs of Waste posts on the topic.

The data is beginning to build up now, allowing a somewhat clear picture to emerge. I'll continue collecting data over time to see how things are progressing, with the aim of reducing my waste output (both recyclable and non-recyclable) over time if I can.

To view histograms showing the actual values recorded for each of the waste types, select one of the graphs below. Be aware that they all have different scales on the y-axis, so they're not visually comparable.

 

Waste data histogram - General
General
Waste data histogram - Plastic
Plastic
Waste data histogram - Compost
Compost
Waste data histogram - Returnables
Returnables
Waste data histogram - Metal
Metal
Waste data histogram - Glass
Glass
Waste data histogram - Card
Card
Waste data histogram - Paper
Paper

 

Waste

10 most recent items

24 May 2020 : Waste data dump #
This week was not a great waste output week. My average was 289g/day, only just below my 300g target. Mostly that's the product of me taking some time out with Joanna, meaning bottles of drink and a single-use escape room game with lots of packaging.
16 May 2020 : Waste data dump #
A slightly concerning uptick in my waste output for this fortnight. My daily average was 178g, when for the last couple of months I've been running at under 150g per day. Most of tha extra was caused by a couple of exceptional glass items (honestly, a peanut butter jar and an aftershave bottle is all it takes), but that still counts. My 2020 average is now at 192g/day, below my 300g target, so I'm still doing okay.
2 May 2020 : Waste data dump #
Another fortnight very similar to the last one, and that's positive news. My daily waste output averaged 146g per day, satisfactorily below my 300g per day target. Last week I expressed my surprise at how similar my output has been over the weeks since I started working from home and this fortnight shows the same trend. A trend of consistency.
18 Apr 2020 : Waste data dump #
Another fortnight's worth of waste data has been added to my waste page. It's been another week working, eating, sleeping, doing everything at home, but I've managed to keep my waste output to an acceptable level despite that. My average daily output was 148g, slightly up on the 133g average a fortnight ago, but still well below, in fact around half of, my 300g daily target. What's also interesting is that over the last 6 weeks while I've been stuck at home, my waste output has been far more consistent than it was before. I'm not sure of the reason for that.
4 Apr 2020 : Waste data dump #
I was expecting a terrible result for this fortnight's waste output, given my increased coffee, snack and food consumption working from home. And my compost really has gone up a lot again (even more of those coffee granuals), but happily a reduction in paper waste makes up for it. My daily average this fortnight was 133g/day, slightly down on last week, which I'm pretty proud of.
21 Mar 2020 : Waste data dump #
More waste data on the waste page. The new data covers a fortnight, which is a good sign (a longer gap usually means less waste). More than a week of that I spent working from home, which I'd expect to cause an increase in waste output. That's partly true: my compost output is higher because I've been throwing away more used coffee granules! But a decrease in glass (to zero!) has compensated and my overall output of 139g/day is well below my 300g/day target. It might be hard to keep this up if I'm spending more time at home. Time will tell.
8 Mar 2020 : Waste data dump #
Last weekend I was in Helsinki and this last week has seen unusual events at work keeping me away from home, so my waste output is low again. So low that I skipped a week of going to the bins. Overall, my daily average for the last fortnight has been 146g per day, less than half my 300g target, which is great. That's pretty similar to the week before, but with an increase in glass balanced out by a decrease in compostables. That's not a comparable switch, but probably a one-off given that I finally polished off the last bottle intended for Christmas consumption! That sets my daily average so far for 2020 at 233g of waste per day.
22 Feb 2020 : Waste data dump #
More waste data is up on my waste page. I averaged 159g per day this week, pretty similar to the week before (more compost balanced by less paper). This is good by my historical standards and still well below my 300g target. I've been trying quite hard, so it's nice it seems to be working, now I just have to keep this up!
15 Feb 2020 : Waste data dump #
The fortnight before last was exceptional, but I didn't do too badly this week either. My latest waste data stats show my daily output to be 149g over the last week. That's still well below my 300g target. The reason for the increase from last week was mainly due to newspapers.
9 Feb 2020 : Waste data dump #
It seems this was a super-successful week for my waste budget. In fact, I skipped my trip to the bins last weekend because they weren't full enough to make it worthwhile. So my average over the last fortnight was 87g a day, well below my 300g target. That brings my average for this year down to 200g per day. Not every week is going to be like this, but it does show that with a bit of planning and individul will it's possible to bring the amount of waste we produce down. In particular, I'm avoiding tins and glass and doing my best not to throw out any out-of-date food. It's strange to think that just by creating myself arbitrary goals it's altered my willingness to eat older food. I'm so easily to manipulate, I can even do it to myself.

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