California Hearings
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:14:11 -0500

Hello Lisa:

I saw the testimony you provided today to the California Assembly's
Natural Resource Committee (your panel discussion was shown live on
the California Channel). Good job! I have a couple of concerns
about the tone that was set during the Panel #2 hearings, and this
could create a false signal in the minds of the committee members.

The panel focused on the residential waste stream (particularly that
which is served by curbside programs). This is limiting and can
create a trap in the minds of the decision makers. Porter
continually stressed the costs of recovering additional materials
from the residential waste stream. Your Cal-SWANA work shows a
diversion rate versus cost curve for residential curbside programs
(please correct me if I'm wrong). Although I think that the work you
are doing is great and is a much needed modeling tool, my concern is
that the committee members may get the idea in their minds that going
beyond "X"% diversion does not make economic sense because of the
costs involved, but this does not include all of the other waste
diversion activities that are out there. Achieving a 50% diversion
by focusing on the residential waste stream is certainly not cost
effective! I did not hear any mention of all of the other
opportunities, all of which have varying degrees of cost impacts
(depending on a given community's waste composition and
infrastructure) -- waste prevention, recycling and composting within
the residential AND business/commercial waste streams, and waste
reduction/recycling within the construction and demolition waste

I noticed that Porter went yapping off about the free market being
the best approach to recycling again, and also noticed that the issue
of the huge subsidies that benefit the waste, timber, and mining
industries was conspicuously missing from his testimony. I see the
present recycling policies as a balance to the system. If Porter
were to also advocate the elimination of extraction subsidies and the
present system that sets an artificially low tipping fee structure at
landfills, then his stance would be more credible.

Anyway, this was not meant to be an attack on you. Someone needed to
do what you are doing on modeling curbside programs, and I know that
you made some personal sacrifices to get it done, and this is indeed
admirable. My main concern is that our elected representatives have
numerous things on their minds, and they don't know all of the
details that make up the nuances of solid waste management. The
committee may have come away with the wrong impression today (due to
the focus on the residential waste stream), and that may have
negative repercussions for future legislation.


Dave Reynolds
1160-C N Golden Springs Dr
Diamond Bar, CA 91765