Rodger Clarke (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:13:45 -0500

Howdy Folks,

I'm not familiar with this GreenYes list, but I strongly support this Zero
Waste effort and am thrilled you folks are tackling this critical issue!
While I know that 1/2 of the total annual timber cut gets dumped or burned
each year, I know next to nothing about the specifics (mechanics,
economics, etc.,) related re-using and recycling all other non-wood
materials (so please bear my ignorance on this issue in mind when reading
my questions and comments below :-) Overall, this policy statement looks
like an excellent effort and a very good start! (Note: I've "snipped" out
everything except that for which I have a question or comment about.)

Rodger Clarke


The vision of a waste-free future

All materials we use are extracted or created from natural resources. We
now have the ability to return them to their component parts, and to
reshape, reformulate and remanufacture them into more of the things we
need. Everything put together may fall apart, but, as a culture, we have
learned how to put everything back together again, at least temporarily,
often in a form that is new and improved.

{RC: Perhaps a paragraph or so that briefly summarizes how much wood,
metals and other natural "resources" are wasted each year, and then
possibly contrast that to an estimate of how little of these "resources"
currently remain, might be helpful to emphasize why (or quantify how much)
the very survival of the Earth's inhabitants are so literally dependent
upon implementing Zero Waste.}

The replacement technology is a network of facilities that reverse the
channels of manufacturing and distribution. Names such as integrated
resource recovery facility, serial materials recovery facility, and
eco-industrial park are currently in use to express sentiment. All these
kinds of facilities compete with landfills and incinerators for the same
supply of discarded materials. Because they rely on market forces, they
assume an open and free competition. Our initial policy task, therefore,
is to open the disposal marketplace so that competition may flourish.

Once this is done, a combination of public and private developers can work
to create these facilities everywhere there is a market niche. Recovery
facilities built around zero waste will have an underlying structure much
like an airport or shopping mall, with managed competition and cooperation
between dozens or even hundreds of recovery and value-added enterprises.
They will be attractive facilities with many amenities commonly available
in commercial marketplaces. Resident recovery businesses will compete with
wasters and with each other for the supply of discards using the age-old
methods of convenience, low cost, and efficiency to achieve the market edge
necessary for long-term survival.

As time goes on, the network and scale of recovery facilities will change.
Manufacturers will reduce and/or eliminate wastes, substitute materials and
process changes.

{RC: I assume a good part of "opening" this marketplace includes finding
ways to increase the demand for re-used and recycled materials while
significantly decreasing (and hopefully eliminating) market demand for the
current mining of these materials from the Earth. While I agree that the
scenario outlined above is entirely possible (and desirable), I wonder how
much of this shift in demand do folks see will have to come (at least
initially) from legislation and regulation (e.g., mandating increasing
levels of re-using and recycling, increasingly prohibit the mining of
natural "resources," etc.,) vis-a-vis the corporate cure-all of "let the
market prevail"? (I know this is partially addressed below.)

I completely agree with the need to eliminate all subsidies, but honestly
don't know whether or not at least *some* level of subsidizing these re-use
and recycling industries might be needed (at least initially) as one means
to help bridge the period during which this demand must be shifted away
from the unfair market advantages that multinational ("mining") industries
currently enjoy with their subsidies, tax breaks and the other brute force
practices they employ to manipulate and dominate of the market.}

Our short and long-term policy goals

All present and future costs of the current waste system should be passed
on to users through waste tipping fees, as noted in Section B.

{RC: I'm not clear to what "waste tipping fees" in "Section B" you're
referring to here, but agree that users should bear *all* the costs (not
just the "direct" ones) related to their consumption.}

We think there is a connection between subsidies that support mining our
topsoil and wilderness areas and subsidies that pay the true costs of
wasting the goods these subsidies help to create. Both kinds of subsidies
should be stripped from our laws.

{RC: Agreed!}

All disposal service providers should be free to charge fees for their
disposal services. Prices should be set by competition for the supply
based on the costs of collection and beneficiation { RC: by
"beneficiation," do you mean the "product sales" referred to below? }
coupled with income from downstream demand for feedstocks or products. We
recognize and applaud the development of two income streams for materials
recovery: disposal fees and product sales.

Our overall aim is to nurture a major technological competition for
discarded resources in which customers and the environment both win. If
our program is adopted, we expect to see reduced service fees, less
pollution, and more economic development, including jobs.

{ RC: I basically agree with gist of this statement. But while I'm hardly a
complete "technophobe" (though often wish I were), I'd gently caution about
how much a role "technology" should play in this goal. I agree that new
technological developments will be needed to reprocess certain materials
into a reusable form, but assume it is recognized that even well-intended
(or so-called "environmentally friendly) technologies can (and have) done
substantial environmental harm. So I'm assuming the intention here is to
also take extra care to minimize this potential. (Understand that my mild
wariness is also somewhat related to what so many corporations have tried
to pass-off as "win/win situation for industry and the environment.")

On a related concern, I'd suggest there be a conscious effort to keep
automation to a relative minimum. For example, consider how many heavy
equipment operator jobs related to logging, mining, or even to the
demolition of 1000's of homes and buildings each week, could be shifted to
manually dismantling these buildings (and other current "discardables") and
separating and "processing" these various used materials for re-use. I'm
just thinking of how many 1000's of logging, mill and other jobs have been
lost to automation (which I also suspect tends to be inherently more
destructive than manual labor techniques...and keeps us disconnected from
the impacts humans are having on the Earth.)}

The role of banning in zero waste

At various points in this process, products and materials will stand out
that are
manufactured in such a way as to be unrecyclable. These products and
materials will and should become candidates for banning, in our opinion.

{ RC: Excellent!!}

Hat's-off to all of you for initiating this vital campaign and doing such a
good job! I would add just one other comment: I see it as imperative (as
I'm sure you all do too) that any campaign for Zero Waste, etc., must also
have a major focus on substantially decreasing consumption! I'd be hard-put
to believe that achieving Zero Waste of what we consume alone--without
greatly decreasing consumption itself (especially in the glutonous US and
the other major developed countries)--will get us to our ultimate goal of
"sustainability" (whatever the heck that may actually be!). Perhaps
something could be added to address this recognition.

Thanks again for all your great hard work on this!

Rodger Clarke