📷 Phil Taska

Cleanup Trash Audit

A first-ever audit of the trash collected as part of the Granite Creek Cleanup was conducted on April 25th, 2022. Prescott Creeks wanted to gather this information to gain insight into what is in the 1.83 tons of trash and where the trash originated. The hope was that there might be something of a “smoking gun” that could point us in a specific direction on reducing trash in the creeks. Below you’ll find narrative about the data as well as graphic and tabular representations of what was found.

The Process

A crew of three people met the City of Prescott Trash Truck when it arrived back at the Waste Transfer Station after making stops at all the Cleanup Trash Drop-Off Locations. The back of the truck lifted up and its contents were extruded out onto the concrete floor of the shed. From there, the crew did a quick sort of bags and bulk items and then a count of bags (about 400). Bulk items were grouped by category (metal, wood, fiberglass, cloth, construction materials, and household items). Then the fun began as we tore open a sample (~38%) of the trash bags to see what was inside. Bag contents were grouped into 18 categories.

Audit Results

The graphic (above) and table (at right/below) show the results: 57% of the trash collected as part of the Granite Creek Cleanup was found to be Plastic! The second largest category was Mixed  – a combination of other categories in small bits impractical to sort further. Cloth, Aluminum, Styrofoam, and Cardboard were each over 5% of the total (or 30% as a group) with the remaining categories of Paper, Household, Metal, Rubber, Wood, Yard Waste, Foam (Open cell), Ceramic, Fiberglass, Food, and Bone making up smaller percentages of the whole.

Based on these results, there does not seem to be a “smoking gun” and no obvious bad actors when it comes to the trash found in the creeks and collected by volunteers participating in the Granite Creek Cleanup. This collection of materials seems to be largely the things that get away from us – such as when the javelinas knock over the bin or during windy weather (which seems to be most of the year around here!).

Further study, scrutiny, and discussion of the findings are warranted. We’re interested in your observations and comments.  If you would like to share them with us, please click here.

Creepiest Trash Found:

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