Thursday, March 19, 2009

landfills as a leading economic indicator!

From the Washington Post's Brigid Schulte (hat tip: C-J)...

Along with the stock market and the foreclosure rate, a less-heralded barometer has signaled the arrival of hard times: the landfill.

In a wasteful society that typically puts 254 million tons of unwanted stuff at the curb to be thrown away each year, landfill managers said they knew something was amiss in the economy when they saw trash levels start steadily dropping last year. Some are reporting declines of up to 30 percent.

"The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first," said Richard Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va., landfill. "Circuit City's closing, so people aren't going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Styrofoam and shrink-wrap ... and whatever they were replacing."

It's all part of the cycle of stuff that people in the trash business said they've seen in every economic downturn since the end of World War II.

People don't buy stuff, so there's less packaging — which typically makes up one-third of all landfill trash — to toss. With a drop in demand, manufacturers make less, creating less waste....

Americans might not be saving string and rubber bands like their grandparents did during the Great Depression. But as the recession drags on, they are rethinking the way they use their plentiful stuff.

Auto repair. Appliance repair. Computer repair. Many such providers are reporting steady, if not increasing, business....In better times, Americans do toss them....


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