In 1988 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations for municipal waste landfills. That same year the Nebraska Legislature required the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (originally created as the Nebraska Department of Environmental Control (DEC)) to conduct a survey of unlicensed landfills in the State for the purpose of determining the impact these landfills were having on the environment. At that time there were over 350 open dumps operating in the State.
Over the following years there was a steady progress made toward the responsible management of Nebraska’s waste. In April 1992 Legislative Bill (LB) 1257 was signed into law. The bill represented the most significant single piece of environmental legislation since the Nebraska Environmental Protection Act, which created the DEC, was passed in 1971. The primary component of LB 1257 was the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act.
The Integrated Solid Waste Management Act contained provisions which for the first time, assigned the responsibility for providing all citizens in the State the necessary systems and facilities for the safe and sanitary disposal of solid waste. The Integrated Solid Waste Management Act also required the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to maintain a proactive position in the responsible management of waste.
The progress that has been made in the state of Nebraska in the pursuit of responsible management of waste has truly been remarkable. Over the course of time we have gone from operating over 350 unlicensed and substandard landfills to operating 20 to 30 permitted facilities. More importantly, we no longer rely totally on landfills for our disposal system. Recycling centers, material recovery facilities, and compost operations are now common components of our integrated waste management systems.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has developed the following guidance document titled Measuring and Tracking Recyclables and Organics. This document should be utilized by the following types of organizations involved in collecting and processing recyclables and organics:
The guidance document, Measuring and Tracking Recyclables and Organics, can be used to assist an organization in the following ways:
- Volunteer groups
- Private/For-profit businesses
- Solid waste agencies
- Establishing consistent methods for measuring and evaluating a program
- Making decisions on the type and capacity of solid waste systems and facilities
- Standardizing terminology
- Reducing the amount of solid waste being land disposed
- Identifying common recyclables
- Providing standard conversion factors and worksheets for measuring recyclables and organics
- Identifying the full cost associated with the program
- Maintaining accurate and consistent records of the types and quantities of commodities collected
- Measuring progress toward the State waste reduction goals
- Marketing collected commodities