dump and spew: the numbers on human waste

sewage outfall

Out of curiosity, I plunged into an exercise that compares human emissions of greenhouse gases to human dumping of solid waste.

This turned out to be a fascinating inquiry, and here's wot I found.

In round numbers, we're talking a global spew-to-dump ratio of 7-to-1. That is, the average human emits about seven times as much CO2 as they dump garbage.

Here's the numbers: the global average per capita emissions of CO2 is 4.2 tons, while the global average municipal solid waster per capita is 0.63 tons.

Now, notice the differences between the global average and the US average. Our carbon emissions (19.5 tons per capita) are nearly 5 times and our solid waste (0.82 tons per capita) is 1.3 times the global average.

So, in round numbers, Americans spew nearly 24 times as much as we dump.

BTW, it's interesting to note that landfill emissions (including emissions from transport of solid waste) are estimated at 0.27 tons of CO2 per ton of solid waste, according to EPA.

Also BTW, in data-mining for this post, I found some interesting numbers on sewage generated. Turns out, sludge in EU = 61.9 lbs/person/yr

I learned that human waste carries a phosphorous load of 1.2 lbs per person annually, and other household disposal generates an additional 0.75 lbs of phosphorous per person.

I also found that our toilets generate 27% of indoor household use at 18.5 gallons per person per day, which is the equivalent of 30 tons of water per person annually.

So, that's the scoop on poop, Sherlock...

Published by Ken on April 21st, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities

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