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This volume is part of the monograph series of the New Liberal Arts Program (1980-1992), a project of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The NLA Program had the goal of assisting in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education. The Program was based on the conviction that college graduates should have been introduced to both areas if they are to live in the social mainstream and participate in the resolution of policy issues. The Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Education is delighted to make these monographs available.


Can We Convert Mountains Into Molehills?

Homer Neal, University of Michigan
J. R. Schubel, SUNY at Stony Brook

The United States faces a municipal solid waste crisis. We produce too much garbage, much of it is too persistent, much of it is too toxic and the perception is that in many parts of the country we are running out of ways to get rid of it without adversely impacting the environment or the economy. Municipal solid waste (MSW) --sometimes abbreviated to solid waste --is the waste from homes, offices, businesses, and schools. The way MSW is defined in the United States does not include waste from industrial processes. It is what we usually think of as garbage and trash.

In this monograph, we concentrate our attention on the United States, but draw upon other countries where thcre are important lessons to be learned. The objectives of this monograph are to present a clear, concise, comprehensive, and balanced formulation of the garbage and trash problem, to describe the alternative ways of attacking the problem, and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives individually, and in different combinations. We also point out where new data and information are needed and how technology must continue to playa prominent role in the search for solutions.

This volume contains lots of data represented in a variety of formats. Quantitative exercises based on this data must be provided by the user.