Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:23:08 -0500


Statements by Dan Knapp and Dave Williamson

By Dan Knapp, Urban Ore [edited]

Technically, it is possible that 100 percent of our discards can be
reused, recycled, or composted rather than buried or burned. What
can't be handled in these ways can be banned. Thanks to two decades
of good work by hundreds of pioneering individuals and companies,
recovering and recycling materials instead of destroying them has won
the public's imagination. Wasting has never been more unpopular
than in these conservative times.

The time has come for innovative people who have been working
quietly on the practical elements of creating a waste-free culture to link

Now is an auspicious time to begin. The world's first declaration of
intent to end the age of waste has just been issued by a planning group
in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Canberra, with 250,000
people, has two large landfills perched in the hills at opposite edges of
the city. The Australia Crown Territory Government is proposing to
replace these landfills with two Recycling Estates within the next three
to five years. Recycling Estates are comprehensive discard
management facilities originally developed by Resolve, a scavenging-
based reuse business founded seven years ago.

Parallel developments have been underway in the United States for
several years. The names used are different: integrated resource
recovery facility, resource recovery park, discard management center,
and serial materials recovery facility. All have in common the
following features:

* competitive, fee-based disposal for source-separated materials;
* drop-off, buyback, and pickup modes of collection for the entire
discard supply;
* three primary disposal modes: reuse, recycling and composting;
* permitted disposal for twelve master discard categories.

Since these facilities are not fully realized at any one place at this time,
metaphors are useful. One metaphor that seems apt is that of an
airport. Airports are often built and operated by governments, but
they nearly always derive substantial income from rents, leases and
licenses. They are physical structures inhabited by a complex
collection of businesses bound together by symbiotic ties blending
cooperation with managed competition. There is a lot of traffic in and
out, and everything follows rules, yet the economy of a typical airport
is mostly a free public marketplace of services and foods. It is the same
for the discard management facilities we are describing.

One wag coined this analogy: "It's like a shopping center in reverse."

[Dan Knapp has started an international forum for people who are
actually working on zero waste systems.]

By Dave Williamson, Urban Ore

Landfills and incinerators are probably the one area of commonality
that any endeavor aiming for total diversion has. Total diversion is
such a big concept in that it will involve issues well outside of the solid
waste ghetto that some nexus is needed. Our goal is to close the
landfills and incinerators. Lets get a list of them and organize
"chapters" around each one.

2. NEED TO GET SPECIFIC. The discard supply must be itemized.
Economic activity must be identified. Various forms of activity
contribute discreet, identifiable portions to the supply of discards
going to each landfill. Name names. Work on this industry by
industry, product by product.

3.THE INFORMATION IS OUT THERE. There is no need to reinvent
the wheel. How to organize this mass of data? This has been an
concern of mine at NCRA. Ihave been working on an issue concerning
telephone directories made out of pulp from old growth forests. Many
versions of reality. There are many solutions as well. For total
diversion, or as I term it zero garbage, information compiling is a key
task -- perhaps beyond the scope of a purely volunteer effort. Here is
an idea:

We can begin with the twelve categories that Dan Knapp has
developed: Paper, plant debris, ceramic soil, wood, metal, glass,
plastic, chemical, textiles, reusable goods, putrescibles.

We can then cross the twelve categories with some standard zoning
categories so as to identify various activities that are waste sources:
Industrial (light and heavy), Commercial, Business district and
Institutional, Residential, Agricultural, Construction and Demolition.

Finally we can identify ways and means to achieve zero garbage from
each category as applied to each activity. For example paper from a
residential source: percentage and composition, virgin material
extraction, manufacturer responsibility, tax code and subsidy
structure, finance and bonding ability, appropriate jurisdictions,
legislation, consumer/stock holder action, sustainable jobs, sustainable
markets. Each of these ways and means can be a before and after
sustainability snapshot.

Envision a cube where the Twelve Categories are the Y COORDINATE
and the Activities are the Z COORDINATE and the Ways and Means
are the X COORDINATE and you have what I believe is a handy filing
system that breaks an enormous problem into manageable chunks.
One of these can be built around each landfill. We can also see the
relationships between categories in differentactivities.


5. KEEP IT LOOSELY ORGANIZED. I believe the keeping costs down
will be advantageous in the long run. Money usually has an agenda
attached to it. We should be identifying like-minded people in existing
organizations and linking up with them that way. We can focus on
membership and non-governmental organizations. (This reflects my
own perspective - A government official or someone in academia will
probably have their own choices for recruitment.)

6. LIAISON WITH OTHER GROUPS. Greenpeace, Rainforest Action
Network, are two that I have been working with. One important group
of people we need on our side is labor. The timber industry has laid
off many more people than the environmental movement, yet
environmentalists get the blame. CEED in Arcata is doing some work
in this area.

7. GO UPSTREAM. We need to leave the solid waste mindset and solid
waste facility ghetto. I am in the Reuse and Recycling business. The
solid waste business is competing with me and trying to turn my
feedstock into garbage. These industries are incompatible and always
will be. One will eventually supplant the other. I am saying we can
lose. We need to have a focus on financial concerns, bonding abilities,
tax codes and subsidies. Our economy is getting very centralized and
structured for waste. I suspect a sustainable economy will be
decentralized, without subsidy-driven market perversions, and consist
of many more smaller businesses. Reuse is one area of local economic