GreenYes Digest V97 #166

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GreenYes Digest Mon, 14 Jul 97 Volume 97 : Issue 166

Today's Topics:
GreenYes Digest V97 #165
On Trees and Farms (2 msgs)

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Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 17:42:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Michele Raymond)
Subject: GreenYes Digest V97 #165

RE: Plastic Bottle Recycling

Point of intofmation to Wally RE PVC bottle recycling. I really don't think
the Associaiton of post consumer Plastics Recyclers are against plastic=

Environmentalists really need to take a hard look at the complexity of the
plastics waste stream in general.. We use hundreds of polymers just for
packaging. Recyclers have had problems with look alike PVC bottles
contaminating loads of PET. Technology has helped a lot. But the PVC
bottle stream is VERY SMALL and shrinking -- so it is not worth it to
separate out PVC bottles (or PP bottles for that matter) for recycling.
Occidental used to buy the old PVC bottles, in part because PVC was under
attack. But the economics were terrible, so they stopped. This has not set
well with plastics recyclers.

So while Greenpeace is complaining about endocrine disruptors in PVC toys,
no one seemed to notice the new problem with PVC bottles.

moreover, the recyclers have been told tests for new in-mold labels will
start soon -- these labels make it very hard to recycle the PET bottles.

RE: Open loop recycling of plastics

I realize that many environmentalists are down on "open loop" recycling of
plastics. However, I could never quite see the harm in turning a short term
product into a long-term product. Moreover, while there is all this brooha
ha over minute chemicals we are not sure about, we are using lots of VERY
toxic chemicals to treat lumber in this country. Why use lumber (Trees)
with toxic chemicals if you could use plastic waste nobody wants?

I am attaching an article in one of my recent issues of STATE RECYCLING
LAWS UPDATE; copyright 1997 Raymond Commuications Inc.

MN Presses Heavy Metals Ban in Products

Minnesota has amended but not repealed a 1991 law which could ban any
products with heavy metals inks, dyes, pigments, paints or fungicides.=20
The heavy metals include cadmium, mercury, lead, or hexavalent chromium,
intentionally added at levels above 100 ppm..
The original law was not slated to take effect until this year, but
attempts to repeal it proved futile. The new law will sets up a state panel,
and will require manufacturers to seek alternative products or prove to the
panel they cannot. Of the 2,000 products affected, 1,300 have not been able
to find alternatives.
The law will mainly apply to products that are manufactured in Minnesota,
though Bill Dunne with the MN Pollution Control Agency said the agency is
authorized to ban the sale of certain products not made in Minnesota.
The new law could place a hit on the treated lumber industry, which uses
chromated copper arsenate (CCA). It will also affect various paints and
coatings now used in numerous industrial, building and highway applications,
as well as auto paints and related coatings.
Companies that have filed for exemptions will be exempt through July 1998.
The exemption request had to contain an explanation of how the company plans
to be in compliance by July 1997.=20
The funding mechanism will be a $295 product report fee, to be paid by
manufacturers seeking exemptions and filing reports. The state also has
authorized $250,000 to do a risk assessment of the real cost to public
facilities to manages heavy metal products. "There are no figures on
in-state versus out of state," Dunne says. "We want elimination, not
management of the heavy metals."
If a manufacturer can prove to the state that there is no alternative
product, or that an alternative would cause more environmental harm,
apparently the state can grant an exemption. The panel appointed to review
the products must find that the alternative performs the same technical
function, is commercially available, and "economically practicable." before
it can force use of the alternative.
The total review process will take eight years. The new language was a
compromise agreed to by the lumber industry and other affected parties. (The
full text of the new law is on the Minnesota legislative web site--go to the
SRLU web site to get to all state sites
Meanwhile, a paper in the January 1997 Bulletin of Environmental
Contamination and Toxicology found that CCA-treated lumber does leach toxic
chemcials into surrounding soils in areas with acidic rain. =20
It was found that levels of copper, chromium and arsenic were higher near
the lumber with exposure to acidic rain, though the copper and chromium were
below levels allowed by EPA. However, the arsenic leached more readily =97
seven times the allowed limit at 10mg/kg.=20
The paper was summarized in the June issue of Environmental Building News,
which concludes, "At the very least, the results indicate the need for more
detailed and widespread testing of chemical leaching from treated wood."
EBN:; Nadev Malin, Editor; 802/257-7300;

Michele Raymond
301 345-4237
Fax 301/345-4768
The next Take it Back! conference is set for Nov 17-18 Alexandria VA; open
forum on producer responsibility Nov. 18.


Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 22:44:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: "William P. McGowan" <>
Subject: On Trees and Farms


Doing a bit of catching up myself these days, I read and re-read your
commentary on the dollars vs. something else ideology and felt that a
response was necessary. I agree with you that the dollars issue is a
very important one, --one that most environmentalist want to push aside
by saying something akin to "there must be a better way." These notions
are usually followed by a type of attack on capitalism that encapsulates
this "there must be a better way" ideology in pie-in-the-sky notions that
capitalism can somehow be done away with for the betterment of society.
My recent debate with Rick Anthony at the last CRRA Conference,
nominally moderated by Neil Seldman, captures the essence of this.
While I respect both people and their fervently belief in changing the
capitalist paradigm, I feel that neither they nor many of the people who
identify themselves as environmentalists have bothered to understand the
historical relevance of capitalism in our time.
As anyone who has read Richard White's Changes in the Land can
attest, capitalism has a permeating influence on the societies it
touches--this influence continues to be ignored by most who identify
themselves as environmentalists. They would rather will away the
impact capitalism has had on our society than work with it. Working
with capitalism is not inherently evil, as most environmentalists
would believe, especially if it involves the changing of people's
behavior. One of the greatest problems we face is internalizing
ternalistie--something that has slowly come about in the last two
congresses. Agricultural subsidies have been erased in many areas,
resulting in wholesale changes in the economies of many areas. Look at
Hawaii, whose subsidized sugar economy all but evaporated in the last
four years when Congress pulled the sugar subsidies. This is working
with capitalism, where the true costs of a program are re-asserted in
the market.
Getting back to your issue about it all comes down to money--it
does, and any solution that respects our environment should be built
around this reality. In my debate with Don Orr, he talked about all of
these non-identified alternatives to logging--we could, we should\
there can--but he never got down to specifics. Part of his problem was
that by acknowledging the weakness in his no tree cutting ideology, he
would have to support plastics (oil exploration) or metals (mining) even
if his ideal of keeping global resource utilization even in spite of
population growth were to be realized. Don Orr, like many idealists,
ignore or blatantly disregards the power of market economics. rather
than altering behavior through price, he wants to disengage from the
debate altogether.
We can not disengage from capitalism. It is a fact, and in one
of the most capitalist countries in the world, the United States,
capitalism has led to us, the American people, spending twice as much as
any other nation on the face of the earth on environmental quality.
Sweden, Norway, and Canada may talk a good game, but when it comes to
putting our money where our mouth is, the US of A does twice as much as
anyone else. These are not the rantings of a conservative
environmentalist, these are facts which can be checked.
My point is that to achieve our goals of lowering resource
depletion, we must use the markets--we must internalize that which is
externalized. This is eminently possible, but it also requires that the
environmentalist goals be held up to outside scrutiny. We must be
willing to accept criticism (like this note) constructively--learning
from our mistakes and moving on. In your broadside that stimulated this
response, you mentioned three publications, Earth Island, Newsweek, and
Scientific American. Only one of these sources is refereed--meaning that
the statements contained in the articles had to stand up to peer review
before being published. The other two sources are therefore dubious at
best. Am I saying that Earth Island and Newsweek would publish articles
that the publishers knew to be untrue--maybe--but we must remember that
both organizations are in the business of selling their products--it is
no mystery why the American Environmental History Review is not a best
seller, nor why it can not be found on most news stands.

The first step towards stopping greenhouse gases and other
resource depletion is to put these ideas before a critical audience and
accept what the peers as about our evidence. Once armed with a
consensus, we can then move forward to internalizing those costs which
are presently externalized. Wishing them away, or hoping that public
pressure will overcome market is, in the long run, merely pissing in the

Bill McGowan
Rincon Recycling


Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 02:37:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: On Trees and Farms

Bill McGowan:

My name is David Orr, not Don Orr as you mistakenly refer to me in your
posting. You have grossly mischaracterized my arguments, as well as entirely
avoided all the detailed arguments I made in two long posts responding to
your questions (and your attacks). I do not care whether you choose to
respond to my substantive comments, but to suggest that I have ignored YOUR
arguments is stretching the truth, to put it mildly.

I did not admit to any weakness in my argument, you have simply asserted that
I have. You have labelled me an idealist, and attacked me as an
anti-capitalist. Never mind the truth, Bill! Your ideology is getting in
the way of the facts. You put words in my mouth that have never been there,
i.e. that I somehow support oil exploration and mining. Hogwash.

If you wish to debate me, then stick to the points raised. I'm not surprised
that you resorted to obfuscation and distortion of my arguments, though,
because I thoroughly demolished your position in my previous postings.
Nothing like throwing a sucker punch to even out a fair trouncing, eh, Bill?

David Orr


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #166