Northern Nevada is a beautiful place with plenty of open space. But what happens to all the trash that we produce? Where does it go? Are there places to dispose of recyclables and compost, too? In this blog post, we will discuss the waste management system in Northern Nevada and answer some common questions about trash disposal!

Where Does My Trash Go?

After you throw your trash in the bag, and take the bin to the street, most people don’t think about where their trash goes.

Northern Nevada has a process for trash disposal. The first step for waste management is usually your last step in the process – trash collection! This is done by a local government agency or a private company contracted by the government. The trash is then taken to a transfer station, where it is sorted and compacted. From there, it is transported to a landfill.

There are two types of landfills in Northern Nevada: MSWLFs and C&D Landfills. MSWLFs are Municipal Solid Waste Landfills and they accept general household trash. C&D landfills are Construction and Demolition sites and they accept construction materials, such as concrete, wood, and metal.

The Lockwood landfill in Storey County is where a significant portion of the trash is processed. The site encompasses approximately 3,200 acres of open land with the landfill occupying approximately 555 acres. It is certified by the National Wildlife Habitat Council and is the home to wild mustangs, raptors, and other indigenous wildlife.

Lockwood Landfill takes pride in operating in ways that minimize its environmental impact.  Initiatives include converting landfill gas to energy and implementing sustainable practices to have a positive effect on the community now and in the future.

Once the trash arrives at the landfill, it is dumped into a cell and covered with dirt. The cells are lined with a synthetic material to prevent contamination of the groundwater. The trash is compacted periodically to make room for more trash. The landfills can expand based on the amount of trash being processed. It is not, however, an endless resource, which is why it is important to be mindful of how much trash you are using and consuming to ensure that this is an effective process for years to come.

What About Recycling?

In Northern Nevada, the most common type of trash is MSW, or municipal solid waste. This includes items like paper, plastic, metal, and glass. The good news is that these items can be recycled! In fact, recycling MSW is one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Recycling MSW is important because it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Landfills are a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. By recycling MSW, we can help reduce methane emissions and slow the rate of climate change!

To recycle MSW in Northern Nevada, simply place your recyclables in a blue bin or green bag. These can be found at most grocery stores and recycle bins and pickup are available in most areas in Northern Nevada. You can either fill your bin and take it to the curb for pickup every other week, or if you are not in an area that picks up recycling, there are facilities available where you can drop off the items you wish to recycle.

One thing to note is that not all plastic items are recyclable. Read the instructions on the bottom of your recycling bin to find out what is and is not allowed. Follow these general rules to ensure that you are recycling properly:

  • Recycle all bottles, cans and paper.
  • Keep items clean and dry.
  • Do not put plastic bags in the recycling cart.
  • Do not place non-recyclables in the recycling cart (see the printed label on cart lid for acceptable material)

It is vital to make sure that you are recycling properly. If non-recyclable items are included, it can slow down the recycling process or even ruin the load of recyclables, causing them to go to a landfill instead.

Does Northern Nevada support Composting?

Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and create valuable soil amendments! To compost in Northern Nevada, simply collect your organic waste in a bin or bag. This can include items like food scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Once you have collected enough organic waste, take it to a local composting facility. There are programs like Down To Earth Composting that offer pickup services as well.

If you are interested in composting at home, here’s a few tips from Earth Easy to get you started:

  1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.
  2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.
  3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.
  4. Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
  5. Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.
  6. Cover with anything you have – wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
  7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material like straw. Once you’ve established your compost pile, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion. If you want to buy a composter, rather than build your own compost pile, you may consider a buying a rotating compost tumbler which makes it easy to mix the compost regularly.

That’s it!

Now you know what happens to your trash in Northern Nevada. It’s not just magically taken away – there’s an entire process that ensures your trash is disposed of properly and by recycling and composting, you can ensure that you are doing your part to keep additional waste out of our landfills.

Want to do more to help? Litter has a major impact on the environment, so picking up trash in your community and disposing of it properly can make all the difference in keeping our Northern Nevada communities trash free! Grapplers is dedicated to trash pickup and doing our part to help the environment. You can get your own Grappler trash pickup tool HERE. Thanks for reading!

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