Trash, garbage, rubbish, refuse, scrap, debris, junk, dregs -- we refer to the waste we produce by many names. However, a shift in our terminology is rapidly taking place: More and more, waste collection and disposal are being relabeled as "resource recovery." That "waste" is getting trashed as a concept reflects a growing awareness that we can't continue to bury our garbage in landfills forever.
That awareness is central to an emerging goal of zero waste: a resource-recovery rate of 100 percent. We're a long way from that now. Nationally, the average waste-diversion rate is about 35 percent, while reported diversion rates around the country vary widely, from single digits to just over 80 percent for San Francisco at the top of the scale.