waste ideas/updates

Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:21:16 -0500

Bill: Here are some ideas and updates.

4 fundamentals SHOULD BE strongly promoted:
(I have not addressed the economic issues because others are doing that and
even if we couldn't win an economic argument, we can certainly win the
"even birds don't foul their own nests" argument)

1. Landfills and incinerators are unsafe (according to EPA's 1988 Criteria)
and, therefore, unacceptable disposal methods.

2. ZERO WASTE must be our clearly, and loudly, stated goal.

3. Recycling must be environmentally safe ( unlike many "beneficial use"
applications, ie sewage sludge on farmlands).

4. Temporary storage is the approved option for materials that cannot be
recycled (the producer must pay the costs of storage).

ZERO WASTE Strategies:

1. Promote ZERO WASTE real-life models. Demonstrate closed-loop processes.
(resources: Dan Knapp and Ruth Abbe, and what's going on in Canberra,
Australia). We could do a press hit on this now and counter the NY Times

2. Propose ZERO WASTE enabling legislation. This can provide guidance for
state activists.

3. Promote hybrid of Wisconsin's failed effort to control out-of-state
waste (through a requirement that states adopt Wisconsin's waste recycling
plan if they wanted to use Wisconsin landfills) and take the judge's

"The solid waste legislation itself makes clear that there is an available,
less discriminatory alternative that could serve the State's purpose just
as well as the requirement that the entire community follow the dictates of
Wisconsin's plan. Specifically, the Wisconsin statute makes clear that, if
the waste is processed by a materials recovery facility that separates the
eleven listed materials, the waste will conform to the environmental needs
of Wisconsin. Accordingly, Wisconsin could realize its goals of conserving
landfill space and protecting the environment by mandating that all waste
entering the State first be treated at a materials recovery facility with
the capacity to effect this separation."

Remember. Recycling mandates must be across-the-board, they may not
discriminate against out-of-state trash. (I've put in a call to Wisconsin's
Solid Waste Dept. to find out what their next step will be. I also called
Wisconsin Sierra, but have not heard from either party yet. If anyone knows
someone else I should be contacting, please call me).

* The federal legislation to control out-of-state waste will, at best, be a
temporary setback to the waste industry. At worst, it could encourage the
import of "non-municipal" far more toxic wastes (including foreign
imports), with no cap imposed, such as: hazardous, industrial, infectious,
asbestos, construction/demolition debris, sludge, etc.

4. Attack the legality of landfill and incinerator technology. EPA's own
1988 Criteria claims that all landfills will leak. There's a case in VA
where a county proved to a common court judge's satisfaction that EPA
standards (503 sewage sludge) did not protect the publics' health. That
legal strategy is fascinating. Some type of court action is necessary.

I met with the four members of the EPA in their VA offices. Cong.
Greenwood staffer, Judy Borger, who worked on the federal out-of-state
waste legislation, also attended at my request. The EPA is attempting to
standardize recycling and waste generation and disposal reporting by the
states. I already had reviewed their waste generation and disposal working
sheet, and brought some errors to their attention. Some of their formulas
were basically flawed. They seemed appreciative of the input. I
characterized the Sierra's position as the following:

1. We want to know the impact of waste disposal on the environment. We want
all waste counted that is landfilled or incinerated. (I excepted the
beneficial category due to lack of information and personal ignorance). The
EPA plans on only counting municipal waste that goes into municipal
landfills, not all the other waste that also goes into municipal landfills.
Also, not hazardous waste or industrial (residual) waste landfills, nor any
other kind of specialty landfill nor on-sight private (captive) landfills.
However, the EPA does have on its recycling form a space where all the
non-municipal waste that goes into municipal landfills can be noted.

2. We wanted to know how much waste is being imported and exported across
US borders. Currently, only hazardous waste is being tracked. (I'm going to
the PHL customs office this week to try my hand at tracking.)

3. We felt it was important to rank performance. I'll send a separate
e-mail on this.

Sierra Policy on sewage sludge is not good. I'm getting a crash course in
the subject from local PA sludge activists. I'll be presenting a resolution
to PA in Sept. on the issue. Can anyone out there help me?