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Measuring the amount of waste and recyclables collected from homes and businesses in Minnesota is necessary to track the progress of our waste prevention and recycling programs. Trash, recyclables, and solid waste are usually reported in tonnage or pounds, though it's often impractical to weigh dumpsters or carts full of materials. Instead, we note the volume of a container and measure or estimate how full it is.

The MPCA has developed a report to help improve the data when the volume of trash or recyclables has to be converted to weight.

The report includes density estimates for the following material types:

  • Yard waste
  • Source-separated organic materials
  • Single-stream recyclables
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Construction and demolition materials

Each material type was directly measured by volume and weight. Each material type is also described in detail, so users can accurately match report data with the materials they are measuring.

The material types were included in the report primarily because they:

  • Are most often measured or reported by volume instead of weight
  • Are prevalent at schools or apartment buildings, where measuring by volume is the best way to track program performance
  • Lacked recent data

Weighing materials is the most accurate way to track materials, but the density figures can be used when that's not feasible.