Overfilled trash and recycling bins

The rise in personal protective equipment (PPE) use throughout the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive uptick in disposable gloves and face mask litter on streets and sidewalks. This issue, combined with the fact that America Recycles Day is this Sunday, makes it worthwhile to explore where waste management issues are worse in the United States. LawnStarter compared more than a dozen metrics across four categories to determine what states are the worst at waste management.

With Washington D.C. included, Alaska took 51st place in the study. Joining Alaska in the bottom 10 are, from worst to even worse are: New Hampshire, Montana, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kansas, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico and Nevada.

The 10 best states for managing waste, from top to bottom: Vermont, Oregon, California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Iowa, Indiana and Washington. 

Perhaps contributing to the results is the fact that only half of states have mandatory recycling laws. Top ranked Vermont, for example, has the most recycling centers per 100,000 residents.

Of course, facilities play a big role in controlling waste management issues. Understanding this, some of the world’s largest hotel chains have made a pledge to ban the iconic amenity bottles used for soap, shampoo, body lotion and conditioner. Some states have explored the ban, too

Waste management efforts are also good for business. As we said in a Sanitary Maintenance editorial last year, the rejection of amenity bottles in hotels are a positive for jan/san distributors, as they can now promote refillable dispensers that hotels can fill with bulk shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap.

This 2019 column in Facility Cleaning Decisions suggests facilities focus on reducing the amount of small plastic items that enter the premises.