GreenYes Digest V97 #33

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GreenYes Digest Fri, 21 Feb 97 Volume 97 : Issue 33

Today's Topics:
Fwd: INFOTERRA: AAAS Calls for Scientists to head off global crisis
It pays to waste--changing the model

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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 06:01:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Fwd: INFOTERRA: AAAS Calls for Scientists to head off global crisis

Dear Green Yes Cohorts,
The reference "developing methods to value healthy ecosystems" caught my eye
in the attached.
Gretchen Brewer
Forwarded message:
To: (ecology list),
(United Nations list), envst-l@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU (environmental studies
list),, (seac
Date: 97-02-20 14:11:57 EST

NEW DIRECTIONS: The American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) is urging researchers "to redirect their efforts toward
heading off a global environmental crisis of unprecedented scale,"
Greenwire reports from several sources. Scientists attending the AAAS
last week presented research on a "range of environmental issues,
including human exposure to pollution, population growth, environmental
accounting, global climate change . . and biodiversity." One session
focused on developing methods for valuing services provided by healthy

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1997 21:49:12 -0800 (PST)
From: "David A. Kirkpatrick" <>
Subject: It pays to waste--changing the model

GreenYes folks:

As chair of a local environmental affairs board, I have recently made
presentations to elected officials in Durham, NC and Orange County, NC
encouraging further waste reduction and recovery progress. They are quite
receptive to our pitch, but are facing a financing dilemma that thousands of
other communities face - it pays to waste. That is:

* They currently operate landfills and are planning new subtitle D landfills

* Tipping fees charged at these landfills are a primary source of revenue

* This revenue covers current landfill operations while also funding
recycling collections, waste reduction programs, and some solid waste

* The more waste received at the landfills, the more revenue the solid waste
departments have to work with

* Private transfer stations and regional landfills are developing in the
state. Local governments fear that raising their fees will send commercial
and industrial waste to other sites, reducing overall tipping fee revenue

* The subtitle D regs are forcing more (but not all) of the environmental
costs of landfilling to be internalized, leaving less, if any, tipping fee
revenue left over for waste reduction programs

* The more successful waste reduction efforts are at reducing landfill
volumes, the less funding they have, in a devilish negative feedback loop

* The remainder of solid waste collection and administrative costs are
covered through property taxes

* Property taxes are under pressure due to public safety, mass transit,
education, welfare reform, and other expenditures and elected officials are
wary to raise taxes

I suspect the above scenario is all too familiar in other cities and
counties. Clearly, we need a new financing model for how a community can
move towards a zero waste, full recovery system. Once we reach that
endpoint, there will be no tipping fee revenues from landfills, so we will
need new revenue sources. On the recovery end, differential tipping fees
could still be charged at MRFs, C&D recyclers, composting companies, and the
host of other recovery ventures envisioned in the Urban Ore Serial MRF/
Integrated Resource Recovery Facility model. =20

But how about collections? Having full recovery collections funded by
property taxes would help to maintain a more progressive tax structure, when
the trend at the federal and state levels is often towards shifting tax
burden from the rich to the middle and lower income citizens. Pay-as-you
throw schemes don=92t have this advantage, but do provide strong incentives=
reduce waste in the transitional period of moving towards a zero waste=
system. =20

Locally, however, there is strong resistance to PAYT plans since
garbage/recycling/yard trimmings collections are the one weekly evidence of
a governmental service resulting from property taxes, unless as one council
member stated, "my house is on fire." Higher tax/fee burdens on the poor
and fixed income is another concern expressed, as is illegal dumping.
Clearly many PAYT programs around the country have overcome some of these
obstacles and are one of the most effective ways of getting to higher
diversion, as statistically documented in the recent study by Skumatz
Economic Research Associates.

But=85 if we cannot sell PAYT to local officials, and local solid waste
budgets are still reliant on tipping fee revenue=85how do we make the
transition? Can we develop financing schemes that reward reduction instead
of disposal in the near term by=85

* "Charging" the budget more per ton than the tipping fee, with excess funds
going into an investment account to cover future landfill closure and
remediation costs. Perhaps with interest on this surplus used for waste
reduction programs.

* Getting out of the landfill business entirely and going to a major
investment in the infrastructure for a serial MRF with a residual waste
transfer station at the back end =96 similar to the Sonoma County model.=20
* Cutting back further on solid waste collection and disposal programs and
costs and reinvesting these funds into waste reduction and recycling
programs, utilizing reduction strategies that cost less or the same on a per
ton, per home, or per business basis.

* Charging manufacturers an advanced disposal fee for their products and
packaging which cover the costs of recovery for their materials. (But how
do we implement this on a local level?)


Excuse my long winded, late night message=85but I wanted to get this out to
you to try to generate a dialogue and some creative ideas quickly. We hope
to have an impact in the Feb-June =9297 budget and planning cycle with local
governments here. I also hope that we can document and distribute some new
local financing models for moving towards zero waste at the Grassroots
Recycling Network conference in early April. I look forward to your input!

David Kirkpatrick
KirkWorks =09
good works for the good earth
Address: Post Office Box 15062
Durham, NC 27704-0062
Voice: 919/220-8065=20
Fax: 919/220-9720=20
Website: =20


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #33