GreenYes Digest V97 #290

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GreenYes Digest Sun, 30 Nov 97 Volume 97 : Issue 290

Today's Topics:
Environmental Teen's plea for help
Looking for reference information
This is a story about recycling
This is a story about recycling of which many of us are

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Date: Sat, 29 Nov 97 20:54:12 -0800
Subject: Environmental Teen's plea for help

To any and all environmentally concerned 'digital citizens'-
(apologies for any cross postings)

I am a teen from California who, along with two partners (one from
Singapore and one from Canada), is planning to create an environmental
web site. If you recall, I attempted this last year. However, I was
gone the whole summer to Japan, and my partner disappeared, so the site
turned out rather incomplete. However, this year I am back, and am much
more determined.

Currently we are in the process of deciding upon a specific topic. We
came to the conclusion that 'the environment' was much too broad to cover
well. The first three ideas we came up with were: forests (covering the
ecosystems in general, perhaps the flora/fauna, the problems with forests
environments, etc), population and how it affects the environment, and
vegetarianism (the environmental impact, health impact). If you have a
suggestion as to which we should do, or have another suggestion, please
let me know.

Also, if you wish to help us out, we would much appreciate any
information, stories, ideas, etc. that you could provide. Of course,
this would have to wait until after we've gotten started on a certain
topic. Or, if you are interested, we would love to have volunteers check
out our site before it is publically released next summer, to provide
feedback on content accuracy, ease of use, organization, or anything else
which applies to the site.

If you are interested in helping us, or are curious about something, or
simply want to be informed when the site is released, please contact me
at rather than replying to a list.

Thank you all-

Greg Westin


Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 23:00:57 -0500
From: Cindy/Mike Shea <>
Subject: Looking for reference information


You're right. Thanks for the reminder.



Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 21:16:05 -0600
From: Jim Walker <>
Subject: This is a story about recycling

Hello, I'm a first time poster and jumping on this dicussion bandwagon a
little late with a couple of thoughts.

While I believe we do all live downstream in some way I also strongly
believe in policy directions supporting inustrial ecology (oxymoron, I
know), EPR, Use Less Stuff, source separation, etc., which are geared to
keeping materials (resources) in the production and use cycle longer, even
and especially if some of these materials are known to be hazardous once
finally "disposed of" into the ground, water or air. As to *where* such
facilities are located, once you're beyond the location theory, that seems
more a social equity and environmental justice question, and a much larger
one than recycling or composting.

Another important part of defining recycling and the degree to which it is
practiced, and by whom, is where in the world you are and at what scale you
are operating. Who else but a municipality to at least collect and maybe
process recyclables if the regional market forces arent strong enough (yet)
to entice private companies? That begs the question of what materials are
feasible to recycle in a given region. And we all have backyard compost
piles which are manageable, but what if we all started collecting for our
entire neighborhood? at what point would our neighbors object? what organics
or other compostable materials would become unmanageable as the pile grew?

I'm just askin' because I have the same frustrations with getting the old
dog to sleeep in a new bed.

I'm in Austin, Texas where the city mixes a large percentage of city sewage
with city collected and chipped yard trimmings and brush and markets (sells)
a product called Dillo Dirt. While there are mixed reviews as to
application, it'd probably kill sensitive plants and enrich hardy
groundcovers, it is a general success, also not possible for a private
company and not pissing anybody off. And quantities of it are returning to
the prime ag land to the east. One of the biggest landfill owners here also
just opened a huge composting operation at the landfill (perfect, no?) and
plans to rival the Silver Creek operation in Ft. Worth, TX.

On the other hand, there is only one dirty MRF in Austin currently and the
adjacent neighborhood association has been drumming for its ouster, and is
getting strong political support from some City Council members. In my mind
MRF's really can't win, they deal in commodities viewed by the public as
having negative value and rely on lotsa truck traffic. Composting facilities
face a similar problem. Travis County, which is 27% the City of Austin, had
been successfully operating a roadkill composting operation (not in-vessel)
in a satellite community for several months when, rather suddenly, the
residents objected strongly to its presence, not to composting, but animal
composting. The county is trying to save money and the residents don't want
dead animals in their backyard. The situation is still unfolding.

As for hazardous waste, we have a city operated household HW drop-off
location (only one in the ten county region) with fairly limited hours and
strong support, they process some things and others are put into the main HW
stream which heads to an incinerator "somewhere else." And boy would I love
it if some companies located around here to absorb some of the "potentially"
hazardous solid and liquid waste coming out of some of our local
manufacturing sectors, especially paints and solvents at the small to
moderate contractor level.

But when landfilling is cheap, the sky is huge, and recyclables processors
are far away you are thankful for what you can get and keep pushing.

Again, definitions, appropriateness and acceptability seems always to get
back around to where and who you are (indiv., and commun.) and at what scale
you are operating. I guess I see some if not most things waste related as
pure public services at the outset and maybe perpetually. If not the public
sector, then who? If not close to the points of generation, then where such
that diversion of x material is still feasible?

By the way, if anyone has helpful insights or experiences related to MRF
conflicts and/or community opposition to progressive composting and/or
expanding HW diversion beyond household, please let me know.


3102 Breeze Terrace
Austin, TX 78722 Community & Regional Planning Program
(512) 499-0526 The University of Texas at Austin


Date: Fri, 28 Nov 1997 17:42:27 -0800
From: Helen Spiegelman <>
Subject: This is a story about recycling of which many of us are

Hello, Susan, Keith and GRRN people:

Susan and Keith have been discussing the challenges of dealing with large
quantities of often co-mingled waste through processes that we
conventionally call "recycling" and "composting", and which often elude
environmental scrutiny because they are perceived as environmentally
friendly -- with the result that communities located near them suffer
horrible sounding impacts.

There are two dilemmas here. One is that commingled materials are
difficult to manage using "clean" recycling and composting operations.

The root of this problem, I believe, is that these materials are collected
through municipal solid waste programs.

In a simpler time, MSW consisted mainly of ash and food scraps, but today
the municipal solid waste stream is an enormously more diverse flow, laced
with common household toxic chemicals. According to the EPA, MSW is well
over 3/4 manufactured products, measured by volume. It is these consumer
products that create the challenge for municipal solid waste engineers,
both by their growing volume and the need to unscramble the omelet to
realize any reduction through recycling or composting (hence, engineering
departments have to hire communications specialists to "teach" the public
to "source-separate").

I like to look at garbage from what the EPA calls a materials flow

I like to think that when producers of products and packaging are required
to provide for their management "from cradle to cradle" then these items
will never enter the "municipal solid waste" stream.

Instead they will be recovered through "reverse distribution systems"
established as part of the marketing plan of the producers. We may see a
day when industry consortia establish programs to take back their discards
through programs they organize themselves. There are already thriving
examples of this here in Canada. These consortia provide efficient,
cost-effective programs in Canada for beverage containers, paint, solvents,
pesticides, pharmaceuticals, used oil and fuel.

Once the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility supplants the current
concept of recycling as an adjunct of municipal waste management, we will
see we will see the industry groups devise much more easily managed
packaging -- as have the soft drink producers. The product and packaging
design will reflect concern with minimizing costs and optimizing returns on
the post-consumer materials. (This opportunity is not available, of
course, to municipal solid waste engineers, who do not participate in
product design.)

But the second problem created by current recycling and composting
operations will be tougher to deal with. That is the problem arising from
industrial activity (recycling and composting) carried out in urban areas.
As the industrial system begins to use discards as "resources", it only
makes sense that the industries will locate near the source. (In fact,
pulp and paper makers in Canada are beginning to abandon the woods, and
relocate their assets in the urban forest...)

With the growing concentration of humans in mega-cities, I especially worry
about the unbalance of the nutrient cycle. Food crops are harvested from
distant agricultural areas (depleting the soil), and then huge
concentrations of nutrient-rich food discards and sewage are generated in
urban areas which cannot be "marketed". Wouldn't it be nice if we could
rail-haul all that nutrient-rich organic stuff back to the prairies and

Helen Spiegelman
Vancouver, BC (CANADA)


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #290