Free waste characterizations

Stony Brook University researchers are seeking participants in a long-term waste characterization program funded by NYSDEC. The intention is to sample collected MSW and recyclables from a variety of programs across New York State. The purpose is to develop a better understanding of managed wastes in the State, with the ultimate goal of improving recycling processes.

Summer sampling would occur over a week period, resulting in about 15 samples in all being analyzed; participants sampled in spring and fall would be sampled for about 2 or 3 days each time. Stony Brook researchers prefer if the summer participants have a MRF where some output products can be included in the analysis. The samples will all be collected and analyzed at a facility (transfer station or MRF) and returned after processing. Some assistance in identifying targeted materials and then accessing sample material (a loader moving wastes or dumping of a roll-off container) will be needed from the site operator, and review of produced reports is expected; however, otherwise very little will be needed from any participant. All student samplers (most are graduate students) have received extensive safety training, and have full PPE and COVID-condition training and awareness; each crew will include experienced samplers and at least one supervisor. There is a baseline set of approximately 30 materials that are sorted for. However, the particulars for each site (what exact MSW and recyclables will be sorted, the exact parameter list, the exact conditions for sampling) will be developed between the Stony Brook researchers and program representatives and detailed in a site-specific sampling plan created prior to any sampling. Facility contractor (if any) cooperation is assumed to be possible.

Some sampling locations have been selected already but others are being sought, especially in western New York, programs with urban components, and/or programs with MRFs. All current participants are municipal operations that primarily manage residentially-generated materials but private facilities that manage New York source wastes (residential or commercial) are also welcome (if located in New York).

Please contact professors David Tonjes (631-632-8518, and/or Elizabeth Hewitt ( and/or Krista Thyberg ( if you are interested in participating.