draft alert

Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:24:37 -0500

Here's a draft alert advertising the GREENYES listserve. Is this
kind of diatribe useful to our zero waste canmpaign? Comments??
--Bill Sheehan

TO Concerned Recyclers
FR Bill Sheehan bill.sheehan@sierraclub.org

RE Recycling Meets Interstate Waste

Do you believe the advertisements that claim waste haulers like Waste
Inc. and Browning Ferris Industries care as much about recycling as motherhood
and apple pie? And that wasting and recycling are just two happy peas in a pod?

Then how do you explain these and other haulers, acting through their trade
association, the National Solid Waste Management Association, bringing suit
against the State of Wisconsin to overturn its recycling law? The law requires
out-of-state users of Wisconsin's landfills to do as much recycling as
taxpayers. On April 1st, Wisconsin lost its final appeal to save the law when
the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

This case has ominous implications for recycling. Wisconsin has probably the
best recycling program in the U.S, one that is diverting at least half of all
discards from their landfills. But when recycling interfered with profits from
wasting, the wasters fought back in court -- and won.

Now taxpayers in any state can work and pay as much as they want to build
recycling infrastructure and reduce waste going to their landfills -- but space
saved can be filled with out-of-state trash from places where people make no
effort to recycle.

What can be done? Two legal remedies are possible, at state and federal

Wisconsin can rewrite their law to conform with the current interpretation of
the Interstate Commerce clause of the U. S. Constitution (which views
garbage as
a commodity just like peanuts or hair dryers). Wisconsin officials are
reportedly considering negotiating with waste haulers to find language they

Or Congress can give states the right to say no to out-of-state waste (only
Congress has the authority to limit interstate commerce). A bill, H.R. 2323,
that would give states this right -- and thereby protect recycling investments -
- has been held up in the House Commerce Committee since May 1995 (the Senate
passed a similar bill last May). Committee chair Thomas Bliley (R-VA) has
formally requested input from Waste Management and BFI, but not recyclers or

Successful resolutiuon of both issues depends ultimately on popular, grassroots
efforts to expose wasters masquerading as recyclers. As long as we let waste
haulers and public officials define recycling as a subset of 'waste
the current spate of attacks on recycling will be successful. Wasting and
recycling compete for the same materioals, but only one approach leads to
resource conservation and sustainability.

What can *you* do? Call your Representative at the Congressional Switchboard
(202-224-3121) and ask him or her to co-sign a letter from Rep. Michael Oxley
(R-Ohio) to Chairman Bliley urging him to bring HR 2323 to a full committee
vote. Write a letter to your local newspaper describing waste industry attacks
on recycling. To get updates on this and related issues, subscribe to the
GREENYES listserve by sending the message 'add GREENYES' to listserve@ucsd.edu.