Phoenix Garbage Studies


Dr Rathje

Caption white: Dr. Rathje

  • In 1988, the City of Phoenix commissioned a study from Dr. Bill Rathje of the University of Arizona to perform a detailed analysis of the solid waste generated by Phoenix residents. One of the most important conclusions the study determined was that over 50 percent by weight and over 63 percent by volume of typical residential garbage was recyclable. This information was the base upon which the recycling program was designed. The goal is to divert as much garbage as possible from the solid waste stream headed to Phoenix landfills.


  • In 2003, the City of Phoenix commissioned Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc. to conduct a follow-up Waste Characterization Study to see how the composition of the solid waste stream had changed in Phoenix over the previous 15 years. This information gave insight into what other materials could be diverted from solid waste headed to landfills. An interesting conclusion of this study was the large percentage of paper, especially newspaper, that was still found in garbage containers and not recycling barrels.