Missoula’s Waste Stream

Municipal Solid Waste Pie Chart by Material Type

The City of Missoula appropriated funding for the completion of a baseline study of Missoula’s municipal solid waste (MSW) stream in the FY18 budget. The purpose of the study is to accurately assess the weight, types, and sources of materials Missoula currently landfills and to establish the metrics necessary to track progress toward the 90 percent reduction in landfilled materials. The resulting data will allow the City to track and report on progress toward the targets. The baseline study is anticipated to be completed by 2019.

As Missoula grows, its waste stream will also grow. Therefore, applying the ZERO by FIFTY goal to waste generation per Missoulian will allow the City to track progress toward waste reduction even as the population increases. Per-capita waste generation is a widely recognized and easily understood metric that acknowledges the dynamic relationship between population and disposal rates.

The baseline study will allow the City to assess progress by calculating the reduction by weight, in total and per capita, of discarded materials. A simple formula to calculate per capita waste generation is:

Total landfilled MSW in year ÷ Population that year = Landfilled MSW per capita that year

Without actual disposal data for Missoula, is difficult to calculate this metric. However, using statewide disposal data from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the City estimates that Missoulians will landfill between 91,124 tons and 112,387 tons of MSW in 2018.

[excerpt from ZERO by FIFTY: Missoula’s Pathway to Zero Waste plan]