GreenYes Digest V97 #41

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Fri, 22 Jan 1999 17:00:19 -0500

GreenYes Digest Sat, 1 Mar 97 Volume 97 : Issue 41

Today's Topics:
50% waste reduction/Mandatory Recycling (2 msgs)
Commercial Refuse Rates
Mandatory Recycling
Markets, Morality and Motivation...
Purpose of Conference and then some..
subsidy information

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Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 12:10:18 -0800 (PST)
From: (Brenda Platt)
Subject: 50% waste reduction/Mandatory Recycling

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Under a grant from the U.S. EPA, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is
currently documenting record-setting public and private sector waste
reduction programs (our Waste Reduction Record-Setters project). We are
focusing on programs that have achieved 50% or higher levels. Already we
have identified close to 100 communities that have reduced their
residential or total MSW by more than 50%. These communities range from
small rural towns to urban counties with populations greater than 800,000.
In the next several months, we'll be looking at the "high-performing"
states (which include Wisconsin, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Oregon) and
identifying the policies and programs in place that have enabled these
states to reach their waste reduction levels. One aim of our project is to
demonstrate how communities and states can maximize reduction, reuse,
recycling, and composting by integrating the best features of the best
programs. I'll be posting our info., when it's ready for release, to this
listserve and on ILSR's web page.

I agree with David Orr's comment that there is no documentation to support
Mr. C. Irvine's claims that reaching 50% waste reduction is "impossible."
Through numerous op-eds, past EPA assistant administrator J. Winston Porter
has claimed that recycling levels above 35% are unrealistic. I debated
Porter at the National Recycling Congress last September on this issue.
I'm attaching my comments from the debate that debunk this myth.

With regard to David Kirkpatrick's questions: " What percentage increases
in tonnages and participation rates have your communities seen when
instituting mandatory recycling? Have there been any articles or studies
of the impact of instituting mandatory recycling/landfill bans? What
feedback do you have
on best ways to educate/ encourage/ enforce?"

In my past research documenting record-setting programs, I found that the
marjority of communities with 40% or higher recycling levels had mandatory
programs. See ILSR's "Beyond 40 Percent: Record-Setting Recycling and
Composting Programs" and EPA's "Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Composting
Options: Lessons Learned from 30 U.S. Communities" (produced by ILSR).
[These reports can be ordered from ILSR's web site:] Other
factors, of course, are important in spurring high participation and
recycling levels: providing convenient collection service (such as
curbside and drop-off, providing bins), targeting a wide range of materials
for collection, establishing economic incentives (such as volume-based
trash fees), and undertaking comprehensive educational and promotional

The late Frank Sudol authored a 15-page piece entitled "Enforcement of
Mandatory Recycling: A Case Study Performed in Newark, NJ." It may still
be available from the Newark Office of Recycling. Call (201) 733-6683. It
found that implementation of the City's enforcement program, along with
publicity, accelerated participation by residents in the City's curbside
recycling program. A comparison of January 1990 to January 1991 indicated
a 20% increase in the amount of cans, bottles, and newspaper collected.

Brenda Platt

p.s. anyone with info. on record-setting waste reduction programs, please
contact me!

>I believe that the 50% recovery rate is not only possible, but is
>already being greatly exceeded in our local area and our state.
>Here in Madison, WI, the city reports that it has achieved a diversion
>of greater than 50% for household waste. I suspect that the number is
>actually quite a bit larger, because of all the yard waste and
>recycling that took place for many years, prior to the baseline used by
>the city. And counting sewage sludge puts the numbers way over 50%,
>Sewage sludge is both a very large source of material, and virtually
>all is recycled in our area.
>In addition, the business community has had substantial waste
>reduction (non-household waste is 80% of what is landfilled in
>Wisconsin). Although the data collection is not as well organized as for
>household waste, a number of businesses have reported waste reduction
>and recovery rates in the 95%+ range.
>In 1994, as a county recycling manager, I did a survey for my
>county (400,000 people), and found that 63% of all `waste' was
>On the state level, back in 1986, I headed up our state waste
>reduction and recovery program and prepared a strategic plan
>for future activities. As part of this work, I surveyed current
>practices and found that 75% of all `waste' materials were
>being diverted, with recovery at some 20 million
>tons a year, compared to about 6 million tons landfilled.
>I expect the recovery rates for our state to increase rapidly in the
>next few years. 40% of what is landfilled in Wisconsin is from three
>main sources -- paper mills, foundries and coal and wood burning
>facilities. There is a major effort to find more ways to recover these
>materials and thus, our recovery rate will rise significantly.
>John Reindl, Recycling Manager
>Dane County, WI Department of Public Works
>> Mr. C. Irvine claims that reaching 50% waste reduction is "impossible."
>> I believe there are communities here in California that may have already
>> met that goal. If anyone on the list can verify that fact, I would
>> appreciate it.
>> Why would it be impossible to achieve? Such a statement strikes me as
>> absurd. Impossible by whose estimation? What documentation exists to
>> support such a claim?
>> I think the California Integrated Waste Management Board would be very
>> interested to know about this, since they're charged with enforcing a
>> statewide 50% reduction by 2000. If, as Mr. Irvine says, that goal is
>> unreachable, then they may want him to come testify to that fact at their
>> next board meeting!
>> David Orr

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Brenda A. Platt
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
2425 18th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-4108 fax (202) 332-4108
ILSR web page



Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 18:52:24, -0500
Subject: 50% waste reduction/Mandatory Recycling

Hello Brenda,

Thank you for the update on ILSR's upcoming review of successful
programs. I look forward to the results. Are you planning on taking
a look at how each of these programs define "waste diversion,"
"recycling rates," and "recovery?" How about household solid waste
versus the total solid waste stream? Are some using waste generation
as a baseline while others use waste disposal? Are some correcting
for population and economic factors while others are not? Since high
"rates" are an important aspect of your study, addressing these
issues would seem to be a necessity.

I will also be very interested in any information that deals with the
characteristics of some "high rate" states. How much is exported?
Are the recovery and end-use applications relatively stable (i.e., do
the high rates reflect a "snap shot" in time due to strong supply-
side mandates, or are they sustainable)? Do some states have unique
or stronger end use markets due to the industries that are there?
What activities are unique to a given state and what activities can
be carried out in other states (other than issues related to
overcoming institutional barriers)? What are the tipping fees at
disposal facilities? ............. I think a qualitative analysis
along these lines would be tremendously valuable.

Good luck and I look forward to the results of your work. ILSR has
been an invaluable resource in the debate arena.

Dave Reynolds


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 14:59:48 -0800
From: (David Assmann)
Subject: Commercial Refuse Rates

We're looking for rate surveys of commercial refuse rates, and would
appreciate information on any such surveys.

David Assmann
Public Outreach Coordinator
Solid Waste Management Program
San Francisco


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 06:18:42 -0800 (PST)
From: "David A. Kirkpatrick" <>
Subject: Mandatory Recycling

Durham, NC is considering enacting a ban on recyclables from its new
landfill or transfer station. Curbside recycling is now provided weekly for
News, Glass, Aluminum Cans and Foil, Steel Cans, PET bottles, HDPE bottles,
OCC, Aseptic packages, and Magazines. More than a dozen drop-off centers
are provided for the same commodities. Commercial collections of Glass and
OCC are provided by the city, with other commodities collected by private
recyclers. The city has a population of 155,000 and the entire county of

The logic for the ban is that the entire community should share the
responsibility for reducing waste if one neighborhood has to shoulder the
burden of a new landfill. The ban could be implemented by a three month
education campaign, followed by warning tickets on refuse containers
containing targeted recyclables, followed by non-collection of containers
with targeted recyclables, followed by actual tickets and fines.

My questions for list members are: What percentage increases in tonnages
and participation rates have your communities seen when instituting
mandatory recycling? Have there been any articles or studies of the impact
of instituting mandatory recycling/landfill bans? What feedback do you have
on best ways to educate/ encourage/ enforce?

Thanks in advance for any feedback,

David Kirkpatrick


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 12:38:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Markets, Morality and Motivation...

Hi Bobbi,

Thanks for writing. I find your comments very interesting. I did not
mean to imply that market approaches WON'T or SHOULDN'T work for our
cause, only that we shouldn't build our whole case on them, since if any
studies come out that don't go our way, then we're screwed by our own
arguments. But I agree with you that there are probably many
opportunities for building our case within the market arena, and
conversely, if we ignore market economics, we probably don't make our
case strong enough. Morality doesn't motivate corporate CEOs very often,
does it?



Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 17:09:53 -0800 (PST)
From: "David A. Kirkpatrick" <>
Subject: Purpose of Conference and then some..

At 10:25 AM 2/28/97 -0800, Susan K. Snow wrote:
>What is the purpose of the Conference in Atlanta? If it to push for the
>Zero Waste initiative or to inform us of the failing recycling markets
>and what we can do to help?
>I'm really worried with what I see locally at the Lafayette (Louisiana)
>Recycling Foundation. Corrugated and mixed paper [hard mix] are being
>stockpiled and not sent to market. The warehouse is bursting at the
>seams, literally.
>>From what I understand markets are soft everywhere, mills are closing
>down. Has the Congress eliminated a tax subsidy for recycling efforts?
>What's going on?
>Susan Snow

Susan -

The purpose of the conference is to pull together grassroots activists who
want to see recycling and waste reduction succeed and grow so that we can
approach zero waste. Local, state and federal initiatives to bolster
recycling markets, such as minimum content standards for postconsumer
recycled content in packages and products, certainly could fit within this

I hope you can join us. When returning the GRN conference form -- put down
your concerns and how you would like them addressed at the conference. Also,
post these comments to greenyes. The GRN steering committee intentionally
did not set up the conference program yet because we wanted to get the input
of activists like you to help design the sessions.

David Kirkpatrick

P. S. There has been no recent elimination of any federal subsidies for
recycling that I know of, other than some weakening of federal procurement
efforts for purchasing recycled-content products, I believe. The markets
for some paper grades are in a seasonal and cyclical downturn now, worsened
by weakened international demand. I will cc: this message to the greenyes
list for other GRN members to make comments on the market situation and how
our conference can help address it.


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 18:21:32 -0500
From: (Howie Breinan)
Subject: subsidy information

I had a paper sent to me by the following person:

Doug Koplow:

Note, I did not publish this to the list because I did not want to widely
publicize his email without his permission. I have the paper at home- I
will try to check on it this weekend and forward the information.

Howie Breinan


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #41