GreenYes Digest V97 #25

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GreenYes Digest Wed, 12 Feb 97 Volume 97 : Issue 25

Today's Topics:
Why not bring Producer Responsibility to the US?
ZeroWaste Article

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Problems you can't solve otherwise to

Date: Tue, 11 Feb 97 19:34:05 PST

[Forwarded from]

I believe in a campaign to educate the public on the importance of purchasing
recycled goods. Address issues such as minimum content,take-back or
redemption programs all aimed at being part of minimum content manufacturing.
Place more burden of waste hauling/sorting/quality control on the
manufacturers through a deposit program. Assist cities in targeting mfr's for
municipal boycott actions(ie if the material in question has no mkt or is a
gross handling problem inform the rate paying public to avoid said pkging in
order to save the rate payer from further handling costs incurred by the
city). I could go of luck ...Steve


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 02:24:45, -0500


Thank you for the opportunity to provide thoughts on potential GRN
campaigns. The following is submitted for your review and

(1) Monitor acquisitions, consolidation and trend towards vertical
integration in the solid waste industry. Establish information
clearinghouse and support network.

We all know that acquisitions and consolidation within the solid
waste industry are reducing the level of competition. Also,
companies investing in vertical integration along the collection,
transfer, and disposal chain will necessarily have a vested interest
in disposal. I am not here to issue a personal commentary on this
trend. Outside of complete monopoly power, these decisions are part
of our free enterprise system. However, since solid waste management
involves issues of public health, safety, and the allocation of
natural resources, and we entrust government to protect our interests
along these lines, state and local governments must step up their
vigilance during these times to satisfy the needs and desires of the

Integrated waste management plans play a critical role in our
acknowledgment of the waste management hierarchy. As the industry
changes around us, these plans must act as a guidance tool to achieve
the goals that we have established. If facilities are approved
without this guidance, and if contracts are designed without careful
consideration given to service and resource recovery issues, then,
knowingly or not, local governments will discover that they have
relinquished control with no legal recourse. Given the opportunity,
a vertically integrated company will invoke a strategy that will
serve its interests along the vertical chain. In the case of a
collection, transfer, and disposal chain, the top priority will be to
harness the waste stream to meet the needs of the disposal facility
investment. This will come at the expense of those companies who
have invested in manufacturing using recycled feedstock.

The bottom line is that we must step up our vigilance and maintain
solid planning to protect source reduction and recycling as the
industry undergoes the changes mentioned above. This may seem
nebulous in terms of a GRN campaign, but it shouldn't be. If the GRN
is truly a grass roots organization and truly a network, then it can
assist in this area. When questionable facility proposals are
brought to the attention of the GRN, resources can be harnessed to
address issues that could potentially impact source reduction and
recycling interests. Before moving on to my next campaign submission,
I would like to provide a real life case-in-point illustration.

A proposal for a mega-mixed waste MRF, transfer, intermodal facility
was established in a Los Angeles County suburb. The proposed site
was adjacent to two major rail lines, and the intent was to serve a
future mega-landfill via waste-by-rail. The party that submitted the
proposal had no experience with material recovery operations. When I
entered the process, I discovered that all debate was focused on the
immediate environmental impacts of the proposal, and no attention was
being given to resource recovery issues. I brought the state-
approved source reduction and recycling plans into the debate. In
analyzing the proposal, the lack of materials recovery and marketing
experience was evident. What became clear to me was that the party
forwarding the proposal was purely interested in "cash flow from the
trash flow," and materials recovery was a smoke screen. A couple of
materials brokers and end-users were listed in a table, even though
these parties knew nothing about the proposal. And considering that
the facility was going to see a throughput of 5,700 tons per day, the
list seemed very brief. The 30-plus cities proposed to be serviced
by the facility had not been contacted, and those cities' source
reduction and recycling plans had not been reviewed. It seemed as
though there was a "build it and they shall come" attitude. No
contingencies were provided, even though the plans required them. To
make a long story short (it may be too late for that :-) ), I was
able to identify eight major conflicts with source reduction and
recycling plans, and this had a direct impact on the party's decision
to pull out of the proposal. In the mean time, another nearby
MRF/transfer proposal was put into the works. The party behind this
proposal is a successful, experienced MRF operator, with an excellent
track record in the communities in which it operates. It has been
very proactive in the proposal, and all of the cities targeted for
service have been contacted and evaluated. Additionally, these
cities have expressed interest in the proposal. The proposed
owner/operator has a vested interest in materials recovery, and does
not own any landfills (although I feel it could be a prime
acquisition target). Whatever the outcome, resource recovery issues
are being addressed.


(2) In light of the increased attention being given to Corporate
Subsidies within the 105th Congress, step up the campaign against
subsidies that benefit the timber, petroleum, and mining industries.

This increased awareness and sensitivity provides a golden
opportunity to educate the public (and counter the anti-recyclers)
about the injustice suffered by recycling, further fueling the repeal


(3) (a) Bring national attention to the long term impacts of below-
cost landfill tipping fees. (b) Campaign to strengthen, not weaken,
RCRA Subtitle D with respect to financial assurances.

Ditto to George Dreckmann's and Peter Anderson's remarks.

Best regards,

Dave Reynolds


Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 19:58:11 -0700
From: (Carolyn Chase)
Subject: Why not bring Producer Responsibility to the US?

Germany, France and now England....where is the US? Still fighting over
trash...and landfill sitings...sigh...

UK Environment Secretary John Gummer later this month plans
to issue regulations that will require businesses to recycle or
reuse packaging that he says will cost less than comparable
programs in other EU nations. An earlier EU directive requires
all member states to recover half their packaging waste by 200 by
recycling or reusing it or incinerating it.
The UK rules will require retailers, manufacturers and
packaging producers to recycle one-fourth of all their paper,
glass, metal and plastic packaging waste by 2001, and will
promote competition in collection and recycling services. The
regulations, which were drafted with industry input over three
years, will use a system of tradeable recycling quotas to drive
down costs. However, the UK's Packaging Federation warns that
the regs will threaten their international competitiveness and
cost businesses much more than the government estimates.
The packaging legislation follows a European trend promoting
the concept of "producer responsibility," or making producers
take back products at the end of their life cycles. In the next
few weeks, the European Commission will unveil proposals
requiring automakers to take back vehicles they sell in the EU
for recycling. Germany last year created an industry to recycle
computers, televisions and cars (GREENWIRE, 12/4/96) (Leyla
Boulton, FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/20).

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

'You've got to conserve what you can't replace'
Please send contributions to: C-QUAL
Californians for Quality of Life, Citizen's Political Action Committee
P.O. Box 9212, San Diego CA 92169

"Every American citizen is involved in politics; it's just that some people
do politics, some have it done to them."


Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 18:02:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: ZeroWaste Article

This article was submitted to Biocycle as a response/addition to the recent
article by Peter Grogen on that topic.

As the program chair for the California Resource Recovery Association's
(CRRA) 1997 annual conference entitled: "Zero Waste: The Challenge for the
Next Millennium", I was very pleased to see Peter Grogans thoughtful piece on
Zero Waste.
It seemed to me that there was a sense of inner turmoil within Mr.
Grogans article. Perhaps it is a similar unease I've found in others, a
conflict between the reality of today where there is no clear cut, simple,
and economically viable way to do away with the vast volumes of discards we
landfill each year, and the deeper understanding we have, that we live on a
small and very finite planet, and just like nature recycles all of her
resources, ultimately so must we.
Although the concept of Zero Waste is an ancient one, it has recently
become popularized in numerous places throughout the world from Australia to
Europe to the United States. I find it interesting that other Zero groups
such as Zero Population Grown, Zero Old Growth Logging, and Zero Use of
certain toxic chemicals such as Chlorine are also on the rise, along with
growth of various Sustainable Society movements.
In our case, the Zero Waste idea came out of the founding meeting of the
Grass Roots Recycling Coalition. The GRN was created by a number of long
time recycling advocates who have grown frustrated with the lack of advocacy
within the movement and on the part of the major recycling organizations.
During that first meeting, there was a strong sense that recycling had lost
its vision and in some cases was running astray. It was felt that we were
creating a recycling system that was too short sighted, one that in many ways
might be doing more harm than good, at least in the long run.
For example: Alternative daily cover, whereby compost could be used to
cover trash in a landfill and be counted as recycled is not a good way to
develop a true organics recycling industry. The crushing of mixed colored
bottles being returned for deposit, creates a pile of glass cullet of minimal
value and does little to truly conserve resources. Flow control creates
waste monopolies and makes it harder and more expensive to create industries
that tap into the waste stream for raw materials. And the damn the expenses,
we're going to get to 50% diversion by 2000 no matter what the costs, creates
a massive economic imbalance that only fuels the arguments to forget this
whole recycling business altogether.
It was decided to get back to basics, to go back to step one and remind
people of why we are doing this in the first place - that we are a group
dedicated to resource conservation, and by that our ultimate goal is Zero
Waste. We do not purport to know exactly how to get there, but we propose to
get the dialog going so that we can hopefully realize where we've lost our
way, and even more hopefully so that we can begin doing something to get back
on track. And as we talk with more and more people we've discovered that it
may not be as hard as we thought, at least to get damn close to Zero Waste,
and that we really do seem to have the support and encouragement of the
overwhelming majority of the public.
For example: Peter Grogan's own Weyerhaeuser make products primarily
from renewable resources. It is not hard to imagine a product evolution that
eliminates the release of toxics in their manufacturing process and in the
end products themselves, and it is not a stretch to imagine Weyerhaeuser
obtaining their raw materials from recycled and environmentally sound
sources, and what cannot be recycled can be readily and safely composted. In
fact I am sure that Weyerhaeuser is working hard in all of these directions
already. I know of a major plastics manufacturer that has come up with a
truly biodegradable PET. It is not a big step to make such a material out of
renewable plant oils, and then by eliminating the addition of toxic additives
one can create an environmental and sustainable plastics industry. Many
major manufacturers have already set up take back centers that disassemble
their old products and recycle the components into new ones.
Zero Waste is not at all impossible. It may well take a while, but
sooner or later ours will be a Zero Waste world. The question is not if, or
even when, for we have already begun, but rather revolves around how - how to
best do this quickly, and with the most benefit, and the least cost to our

Stephen Suess is the owner of the Plactory, a small business that collects
plastics not recycled elsewhere and reprocesses them into a line of display
products. He is also on the Board of Directors of the CRRA and is the
Program Chair for the 1997 CRRA conference on Zero Waste which will be held
in Monterey, CA June 1-3, 1997.


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #25