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



10 most recent items

27 Sep 2020 : Waste data dump #
Another waste data dump, this one just a week after the last. I made a tactical error this week, buying bread and sausages that were reduced and approaching their best-before-dates. Following my mum's teachings, I thought I was being good but on opening the packets discovered them to be peppered with mould. Not so tasty. So my compost waste is right up this week, leaving my average of 188g/day being 14g higher than my 2020 average.
20 Sep 2020 : Waste data dump #
It's been a while since my last waste update, around five weeks in fact. That's because I was travelling, followed by a fortnight in quarantine. That means that while the graphs show a very low output because of the weeks I was away (average 81.5g/day), in practice my real output was higher (209.5g/day). That's a fair bit higher than my 2020 average so far (173.4g/day) and that's because I stacked up well before quarantine, leaving me with a surfeit of things to eat. A bit counterintuitively, but everything is topsy-turvy right now. I've kept my spirits up by enjoying the extravagance. Happily it's still under my 300g/day target either way; let's see what happens next week when things are (somewhat more) back to normal.
15 Aug 2020 : Waste data dump #
Just a small addition to my waste output, adding in some data I missed before. Less than a week of data averaging 188g/day, but which includes some weight I forgot to add previously, so it's kind-of a correction.
11 Aug 2020 : A year of rubbish #
With my latest waste data dump I've now reached a full year of data (366 days to be precise). I actually don't remember what triggered me to start this time last year and I didn't think I'd manage to keep it up. Here are the stats from the full set of data.

Total period:   2019-08-11 - 2020-08-11 (366 days)
Overall daily average:          231.22 g/day
Year 2019 daily average:        304.18 g/day
Year 2020 daily average:        187.57 g/day

So it seems my average daily output of waste is around 230g/day. It'll be interesting to discover whether that goes down as a result of me recording and keeping track of the data, but if you look at the graphs you can see a big chunk happens around Christmas, so my relatively low average for 2020 will inevitably go up.
11 Aug 2020 : Waste data dump #
It's been a bit of a gap - over 3 weeks - since my last waste data dump. And it's a bit of a strange one after a week in the UK and two weeks in quarantine. By necessity I was very frugal while stuck in my flat, especially given poor planning on my part meant that although I bought essentials, I forgot to get any of the little extravagances that I'd usually indulge in (biscuits, drinks, that kind of thing). So, I survived at least and my daily average waste output is way down at 1.17g/per day. That's the lowest its been for a while (it also hides my waste output while I was away).
15 Jul 2020 : Waste data dump #
I've just put another waste data dump up. There's been a bit of an uptick, with my average up to 211g/day from 157g/day last fortnight. That's still okay though (below my target). Plastic and returnables seem to be the issue, probably because it's been so hot and I've been enjoying some cool beverages. At least I managed not to buy anything in a glass bottle.
4 Jul 2020 : Waste data dump #
It's been a pretty good fortnight as far as my waste output is concerned. Plastic and general waste are up slightly, but that's counterbalanced with no metal or glass used this fortnight at all, bringing my daily average to 157g/day over the last two weeks. I'm happy with that.
20 Jun 2020 : Waste data dump #
My latest waste data dump just has been uploaded. My daily average over the last fortnight was 162g per day, which is a generally decent result for me. My goal is less than 300g, and during lockdown I've been closer to 150g, but a month ago it looked like things were creeping up. I'm much happier with 162g. That sets my 2020 average to date at 199g per day, compared to 304g in 2019. Breaking it down, my plastic output was rather high this fortnight. This is a bit of a cycle, because I buy many products in plastic containers (cosmetics; foods; cleaning products) which often last more than a fortnight. Returnables is also up because in the hot weather I'm buying more drinks. This was counterbalanced by less card and paper although I'm not really sure why to be honest.
7 Jun 2020 : Waste data dump #
I've uploaded another fortnight of waste data, up on my waste data page. The last two weeks haven't been so great again, with my daily average of 258g/day. That's below my target, and below the previous fortnight, but still well above my output level from a month ago, which was closer to 150g/day. The change has been driven by a few exceptional items in the card and compost categories making it into the bin; I need to make sure exceptional doesn't become routine.
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.


Uncover Disqus comments