GreenYes Digest V97 #122

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Fri, 22 Jan 1999 17:12:17 -0500

GreenYes Digest Wed, 28 May 97 Volume 97 : Issue 122

Today's Topics:
airline recycling
Clean Air Regulations: 'There's no way that the final decision will be made
by the White House solely on the basis of protecting children.'
End Logging on Public Lands Fact Sheet
response to stealth attack on recycling
response to V97 #116
zero cut meets zero waste!

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Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 20:59:30 -0400
From: "Blair Pollock" <>
Subject: airline recycling

on 5/23, Carolyn Chase asked about characterizing airline waste and
recycling activities. Several years ago there was a good piece in Resource
Recycling on airport recycling.

The Raleigh Durham Airport Authority in Durham NC has a recycling program
that's pretty good. NC law prohibits landfilled Al cans so they must
separate. their # is 919-840-2100.

I always ask about Al can recycling when i see cans being trashed on the
planes and it appears to be in decline in most places except when flying
into a hub e.g. inbound to St. Louis on TWA cans get recycled. If you
figure ~100 people per flight and 1 can per person and X flights per airline
per day -- you can do the rest of the math. I don't even want to think about
the other wastes.


Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 08:54:31 -0500
From: "Susan K. Snow" <>
Subject: Clean Air Regulations: 'There's no way that the final decision will
be made by the White House solely on the basis of protecting children.'

Dear friends and industry lurkers,
Pardon me for being off topic. However, I wanted to share what appears
to be more rhetoric from the White House regarding the protection of
America's children <Inside the Beltway>. Also, check out the
acknowledgement of a major oil company on global warming; and the
increased toxicity of mercury, which like dioxin is not captured by most
pollution controls used in the U.S. today.

I realize these topics are not precisely on the key subject of this
discussion, but they are of interest to some people. ...Susan Snow

EICAction - Friday, May 23, 1997
In This Issue:
White House Brings Economics into Clean Air Equation
Oil Company Chief Concedes Climate Change, Promotes Solar Energy
Memorial Day Barbecue at Power Plant Brings Home Clean Air Message
Mercury Even More Dangerous Than Thought; Coal-Fired Utilities Blamed
Toxic Waste Jumps 3% in 1995 Alone
Inside the Beltway
<the latest news from DC>

White House Brings Economics into Clean Air Equation
Never mind that the original Clean Air Act specifies that air standards
should be based on what is healthy, not on the cost to industry profits.
The decision over the new clean air standards proposed by the
Environmental Protection Agency--already the hottest environmental fight
of the year--will be made partly based on economics, the White House
says. The Washington Post reported May 22 that three more
agencies--including the National Economic Council (led by Gene
Sperling), the White House's Office of Management and Budget, and the
White House's Council on Environmental Quality--will enter the
decision-making process on soot and smog standards. Officials said "all
relevant views" should be heard. EPA officials, perhaps tired of being
on the hot seat with little help from the White House, claimed they
welcomed the intervention. But a Capitol Hill staffer told the Post:
"It's quite clear what they intend to do here. There's no way that the
final decision will be made by the White House solely on the basis of
protecting children."

Environmental Action
<environmental news from around the country and world>
Oil Company Chief Concedes Climate Change, Promotes Solar Energy
British Petroleum chief executive John Browne, in a speech May 19 at
Stanford, said "there is now an effective consensus among the world's
leading scientists and serious and well-informed people outside the
scientific community that there is a discernable human influence on the would be unwise and potentially dangerous to ignore the
mounting concern." His prescription: Solar power. "Our aim is to extend
the reach" of solar technology, he said, noting that BP has a 10% share
of the world market and sells solar tech in 16 countries. "Solar will
make a contribution to the resolution of the problem of carbon dioxide
and the increase in temperature."

Spotlight on the Field
<local and regional action>
Memorial Day Barbecue at Power Plant Brings Home Clean Air Message
Florida health, consumer, and environmental activists held a barbecue
within sight of the smokestacks of the Florida Power and Light plant at
Port Everglades, Fla., hoping to use the Memorial Day weekend to educate
the public that it's coal-fired electric plants and not backyard
barbecues that are to blame for most air pollution. "It would take
nearly three and a half million barbecues to equal the pollution from
the average power plant," said Steve Murchie of the Florida Consumer
Action Network, quoting an Environmental Information Center report.

Related News
<from around the country and the world>
Mercury Even More Dangerous Than Thought; Coal-Fired Utilities Blamed
A controversial 1,700-page report from the Environmental Protection
Agency suggests that mercury is even more of a threat to public health
than previously thought, the agency confirmed this week while putting
off the report's release to the end of the year. A draft copy says
85,000 American women are exposed to levels of mercury that could affect
brain development of their unborn children. The Senate pressed this week
for the report's immediate release. Meanwhile coal-fired electric power
plants complained over being named as a principal source that needs
further smokestack controls. Final Word

<inspiring or alarming items in the news>
Toxic Waste Jumps 3% in 1995 Alone
Releases of hazardous chemicals into America's environment are down 46%
in the last decade, EPA reported Tuesday in its annual release of data
from the Toxics Release Inventory. But the total amount of toxic waste
created by companies continues to rise, EPA said. And buried in the
statistics was a sharp rise in the last reporting year alone: 1995
accounted for a 3% rise in toxic waste, out of a total 7% rise since
1991. U.S. industries now generate toxic waste at the rate of 35 billion
pounds a year.

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Date: Mon, 26 May 97 09:39:16 PST
Subject: End Logging on Public Lands Fact Sheet

David Orr,

Your Logging on Public Lands fact sheet is excellent, but it
strikes me as self-limiting by focusing only on traditional,
preservationist supply-side arguments.

Wouldn't the case be made stronger and more REALISTIC if
the argument also dealt with demand? Specifically, a key force driving
destruction of forests is demand for its products. Your argument
focuses on the patent evils of the supply side (subsidies, corporate
greed) without mentioning where the materials are going (into a
linear, wasteful system wherein virgin forest products constitute at
least half of what is being landfilled, thereby presenting a
significant threat to future groundwater resources). Limiting
concern to the supply side strikes me as akin to U.S. foreign policy
aimed at the drug supply in Latin America that ignores demand at

Both the movement for a sustainable materials economy (recycling
and waste reduction) and the movement for preserving natural
lands will be strengthened by joining forces and making these
connections. Zero Cut meets Zero Waste!

Bill Sheehan


Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 15:39:30 -0400 (EDT)

Reminder: Sunday sessions at CRRA Conference are FREE!

Gary Liss


Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 22:28:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: "William P. McGowan" <>
Subject: response to stealth attack on recycling

[Author's comment: all phrasing listing in quotations are lifted directly
from a letter posted on this list from Dan Knapp last week]

24 May 1997

This is posted on the listserver as a means of replying to a letter
posted few days ago which ended with the memorable phrase, "we can pool
our knowledge to understand better the shadowy movements of the
anti-recyclers: the spies, moles, and flaks, and their corporate

The letter was, needless to say, fun to read, and fun to
quote, and no doubt the author would, if he could, erase from our memory
banks his final, parting statement. While the "spies, moles, and flaks"
comment should not detract from the rest of my learned colleague's
posting, it does underline the divergence of opinions on where recycling
and resource conservation should go from here.

The eminent Harvard historian Richard Hoftstadter once wrote an article
entitled "the conspiracy in American history," in which the author set
out to discover the origins of conspiracy theories, such as the famous
argument that the Constitution was composed by the Founding Fathers to
guarantee loans the signatories made to the Continental Congress.
Hofstadter found that while most conspiracies could (and eventually were)
discredited through an objective examination of the evidence, they had
such long lives because they were all grounded in one bit of fact.
The posting arguing that the Ranti-recyclersS are funded by some sort of
"shadowy movement" is in fact correct in that academics like Dr. Frank
Ackerman have had some of their research funded by the likes of the
plastics recycling council. Does that imply that Dr. Ackerman's
conclusions were dictated by the organization's funding his research?
Hardly. As an academic, Ackerman's conclusions are evaluated by his
peers, and by posting them on the Internet, and having them published, he
opens himself up to the kind of critical, fact based appraisal that the
postingUs author DID NOT engage in. As Ackerman pointed out in a rather
civil response, the infamous posting's author (Dr. Dan Knapp) never
addressed any of the substance of Ackerman's article, but rather engaged
in an ad hominen attack that descended into the famous Rmoles, spies, and
flaksS conclusion.

As I pointed out at the top of this piece, I think the article, while fun
to read, underlined a serious divergence of opinions on the direction of
waste management in the twenty-first century. It is important to note
that up to this time, the two sides, or as I think of them, "schools," in
this debate have been screaming at each other more than they have been
engaging in intellectual dialogue. We need to acknowledge that nothing
is going to get accomplished by this kind of name-calling. Those who
have been at the cutting edge of environmental legislation have,
unfortunately, allowed themselves to descend into this kind of sniping
whenever their motive or programmatic agendas are questioned, and it does
nothing to further the goal that I and Dan Knapp share: the better
allocation of society's resources.

Now that California (as well as the rest of the country) has embraced a
recycling ethic, we need to admit that there are at least two different
schools about how we should be achieve the goals this ethic embraces.
One school still seems to be operating in campaign mode, urging more and
bigger programs, while another school seems to be pointing out the limits
of recycling. The first school I call the True Believers, while the
second I call the Recycling Realists (you can tell by my nomenclature
which school I claim membership).


The True Believer school has as one of its greatest strength the support
of the public. As Dr. Ackerman pointed out, the public overwhelmingly
supports recycling programs, though, to Dr. Knapp's frustration,
Ackerman is equally correct in saying that those who support municipal
recycling programs are unable to identify just how these programs benefit
society. This is not saying that there are not benefits, just that the
general public can not enumerate them A second strength that the True
Believer school has is its history. Those who dominate the TB school are
the people who helped pass legislation creating recycling programs all
over the country, and their achievements should not be denied.
On the negative side, the TB school's greatest weakness is its refusal to
stop living in the past. By continually framing the debate in terms of a
crises (or a conspiracy), the TBs fail to acknowledge that the political
economy of the society in which they function has changed. Part of this
change has been brought about by the fallacies the TBs used to get their
original goals passed. In California, the landmark legislation that
started it all, AB939, was passed in the middle of the night at the end
of a legislative session under the false notion that the State was facing
a landfill crises. Anyone living in the State since the 1989 passage of
this bill knows that the exact opposite is true, and while the public is
slow to catch on, they are not totally stupid. They no longer accept
the arguments of self-anointed "environmentalists" without a degree of
skepticism that was nowhere to be found in 1989. A second weakness of
the TB school is that the programs they sold to cities and counties as
being new sources of revenue have in fact become new drains on already
low public treasuries. Recycling programs, at least as they have been
implemented here in California, DID add costs to municipal budgets
without providing the funding to pay for them.

This last weakness of the TB school has undeniably given rise to a wider,
more diffuse body of people I now group together as Recycling Realists.
Unlike the characterization put forth in the posting that started this
debate, the core group of this school does not come from "shadowy
elements" but rather comes from deep within the environmental movement
itself. The most fervent members of the Recycling Realist school were
the recyclers and haulers who were business before AB939 (and legislation
like it outside of California) got passed, the folks who (like me) do
not get paid unless they can make recycling pay for itself in a market
economy. Unable to rely on subsidies or grants, these individuals were
dubious of True Believer proclamations that recycling was going to mean
plenty of new, high paid jobs created by government fiat. When the
Realists expressed their skepticism to municipal officials educated by
the True Believers, they were discounted as not knowing what they were
talking about. This criticism brought them closer together, and while
it seemed that the True Believers held the upper hand politically
throughout the early 1990s, by mid-decade the financial realities the
Realists warned cities about began to come home to roost.

The greatest strength of the Realists, then, is that they have been
consistent in the message: recycling is a marginal business that is very
difficult to do. The old saw that "if it were easy, then everybody
would be doing it" was in the case of recycling, very true. And as the
costs of municipal recycling programs began to sink in to the people
paying for them, city managers and other municipals began listening to
the Realists more intently. While the True Believers changed the
arguments for why recycling was good, the Realists persistently
emphasized its limits. Adding to this strength were the actual hard
numbers: cities were paying more and more for recycling programs
initially sold to them as revenue generators.

The Realist school is weakened, however, by their inability to move the
debate to their side. As pessimists about the efficacy of municipal
recycling programs, they have been easily casts as obstructionists and
members of some great, municipal industrial complex conspiracy that seeks
to destroy the programs that True Believers worked so hard in
building. Secondly, because they mostly make their living by recycling
or hauling recoverable material, and being very busy at doing that, they
do not engage in public policy debates about the future of recycling,
leaving the field to enthusiastic amateurs whose first hand knowledge of
the business is limited.

Though the True Believers will not admit it, the United States has a few
more pressing environmental issues other than garbage and recycling to
face in the next five to ten years. Figuring out how to end public
subsidies to the logging business, toxic waste, and the pollution of our
streams and rivers with sewage that comes from cities that are unable or
unwilling to build tertiary water treatment facilities are a few
examples. To my knowledge, the Realists like Dr. Ackerman are not
advocating the demolition of municipal programs as much as they advocate
a refocusing of public attention on these other, more pressing
issues. The argument here is that a dollar spent in trying to get
more plastic out of the waste stream is a dollar NOT spent on getting
untreated feces out of the local trout stream.

Realists are called that because they understand something many
environmentalists refuse to acknowledge, namely, that the public's
wallet is not bottomless, and the political ability to increase taxes to
pay for a program, no matter how laudable, has been reached. The
following two statements are verifiable facts: Americans are the most
taxed than they have been at any time in their history, and the United
States spends more per capita on environmental programs than any other
country combined.

The growing trend of what Don Knapp calls "anti-recyclers" is not fueled
by some mythical conspiracy of oil, plastic, and packaging industry
moles, rather it has been fueled by the arrogance of the True Believers
and their reliance on bureaucratically controlled waste management
systems. Since most of them have recycling industry backgrounds, the
Realists know from their own hands-on experience that the accomplishments
municipal recycling programs could have been achieved at far lower
costs. To a person, the Recycling Realists I know do not contest the
GOALS of the True Believers as much as they decry their METHODS of
achieving them.

Recycling is a tough business that bureaucratization and gobs of public
money can not make more efficient. In the final analysis, then, one of
the facts Dr. Dan Knapp tries to use against Dr. Ackerman can be turned
against Knapp instead. By citing David Kirkpatrick's comment that
"recycling is fundamentally a small business phenomenon," Knapp makes the
argument that many of us Realists have been using for years: that
improvements in recycling will be entrepreneurial in nature and largely
will come from outside the public municipal complex which he seems to defend.

William P. McGowan
Rincon Recycling and the University of California at Santa Barbara


Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 12:48:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: Pat Franklin <>
Subject: response to V97 #116

This is my first time connecting up to greenyes and I don't know what I'm
doing or if the message will get to anyone. I had to respond to the press
release of 11/94 that quoted Richard Abramowitz ( then with National Soft
Drink Assoc. (NSDA) and now with BFI or WMX ) as saying " Industry is
already taking responsibility for its packaging and has been for years.
Companies have educated the amount and weight of the materials in their
packages and have used more recycled content in their packages as well....
This is commonplace in the beverage industry. There is an economic incentive
to use less packaging. "

Everyone should know that Coke ( the goodguys who are advertising for clean
water or water conservation or something on their cans) is test marketing a
new " contour can" that weights 15% consumer more to buy it. The cost in
terms of environmental degradation ( mining and manufacturing ) will be
higher. And so on and so on. Coke's new " classic contour can " is classic
example of a corporation rejecting the notion of product stewardship in
exchange for market share. They give with one hand and take with the other.
And, they are taking a lot more than they are giving.

Hoping this message gets to Greenyes,

Pat Franklin at CRI


Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 14:52:00 -800 (PDT)
From: "Meg Lynch" <>
Subject: Stealth

I echo the calls for more civility and respect on this list, from whichever
actual or perceived side of the political spectrum.

Meg Lynch
Regional Environmental Management
Portland, OR


Date: Wed, 28 May 97 00:08:58 -0700
Subject: Water

Does anyone know offhand or have easy access to this info:

1. How much fresh water is left on Earth?
2. What percent of the earth's total water is that?
3. About how fast are we using up/contaminating our fresh water?


Greg Westin


Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 05:59:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: zero cut meets zero waste!

Hi Bill,

You're right, we need to make zero cut and zero waste two parts of the
same movement.

Our fact sheet necessarily focusses rather narrowly on supply-related
issues. We are trying to get the message out as quickly and succinctly
as possible in advance of bill introduction (in mid-June). We will be
developing our arguments over time, and would like to invite input from
the zero waste community, to help us build the airtight case we need to
win this fight.

Demand reduction is central to forest preservation. I was a delegate to
the Tomales Bay Conference in 1994 where a goal of 75% reduction of wood
use was targetted as a necessary component of any global forest
conservation strategy. I am committed to this objective, and believe
that the zero waste movement has the best chance at this time for putting
a substantive demand reduction campaign on the table. Please let me know
how I can be of assistance.

I consider our zero cut campaign to be the first decisive step we can
take to put the timber industry on the defensive. But we must move a
zero waste campaign forward simultaneously. The CRRA and GRRN are moving
on this, and I predict that within a year, we can have a very effective
two-prong attack on deforestation go****full-swing in the US. Let's work
cooperatively to develop this concept and make it happen!


David Orr, Co-Director John Muir Project
30 North Raymond Avenue, Suite 514 818-792-0109 (vox)
Pasadena, CA 91103 818-792-1565 (fax)

"No problem can be solved from the same consciousness
that created it."
"Everything has changed but our thinking."
- Albert Einstein


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #122