Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:57:30 -0500

Greenwire 4/1/97

"While efforts to get Americans to sort and recycle their
garbage have been hugely successful and have had significant
environmental benefits," many local governments are starting to
evaluate whether the costs of expanding such programs outweigh
the benefits, the WASH. POST reports.
The nation currently recycles about 26% of its municipal
solid waste (MSW), and "experts say that without too much extra
expense" that figure "could be pushed as high as 40%." But more
ambitious goals "could send costs much higher" and could require
raising local taxes or cutting other services. J. Winston
Porter, a former US EPA asst. administrator who in 1988 set a
national goal of recycling 25% of MSW, thinks that is still about
the optimum figure. Porter: "It's not like we can't get too
much recycling, because the truth is we can."
Dave Gatton of the US Conference of Mayors says local
governments "are not debating whether to abandon their programs,"
but "they are debating how to make recycling more effective."
Even the Sierra Club recognizes the limits of recycling; in a
report last summer, the group said: "Recycling is not a panacea
for our environmental problems, nor should it be pursued to the
point of diminished returns or at any cost."
The "ultimate" answers, local officials and industry experts
say, include reducing household waste, improving information on
recyclable commodities through a national "Recyclables Exchange"
(GREENWIRE, 10/18/96), and developing products that use less
energy and raw material in the first place (Kathleen Day, WASH.
POST, 3/30).

Maybe Bill or the Waste Committee of the SC would care to respond?


Carolyn Chase, Editor, San Diego Earth Times,
Please visit ;-)

Tel: (619)272-7423 (SDET)
FAX: (619)272-2933
P.O. Box 9827 / San Diego CA 92169

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