GreenYes Digest V98 #29

GreenYes Mailing List and Newsgroup (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 17:34:11 -0500

GreenYes Digest Thu, 5 Feb 98 Volume 98 : Issue 29

Today's Topics:
Bad and sham recycling proposals are killing the beneficial concept of
recycling including saving resources and reducing pollution
Further Note on Auto/Steel Recycling
Looking for a buy recycled bill
Model bill mandating government agencies buy post consumer recycled paper
Precautionary Principle and Zero Waste
Renewal of product stewardship plans in Manitoba

Send Replies or notes for publication to: <greenyes@UCSD.Edu>
Send subscription requests to: <greenyes-Digest-Request@UCSD.Edu>
Problems you can't solve otherwise to
Loop-Detect: GreenYes:98/29

Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 13:18:05 -0600
From: Susan Snow <>
Subject: Bad and sham recycling proposals are killing the beneficial concept
of recycling including saving resources and reducing pollution

This is an example is bad recycling that despite EPA's rhetoric of
wanting to clean up toxic waste sites, has the potential to endanger
more people than if the waste site were left alone, or better still,
prevented in the first place.

However, in the United States, our government regulates by the premise
of first, do harm; second, prove harm; third, use cost benefit analysis
to write regulations so that the economy will increase and public health
as a whole will decrease. Apparently, this premise has trinkled down to
the states.

Hence, conventional agriculture is using fertilizers made in part from
the recycling of hazardous wastes which is spread onto farms by
unknowledable farmers. Then, manmade toxic chemicals are sprayed to
kill insects, weed, fungi and other life forms --these should be called
biocides becaue they kill life. And, alas, people are told their food is
safe. Sure, it is :-(

Susan Snow

**Deer Trail, Colo.: Superfund-site wastes to be recycled?

Farmers here say they are unconvinced of the safety of a plan to send
liquid waste from a Superfund site through sewage treatment and apply it
on a 50,000-acre, government-owned wheat farm.

Lowry Landfill is one of the worst Superfund sites in the country, with
a brew of industrial solvents, petroleum oils, pesticides and
radioactive material.

The EPA is considering the novel disposal plan in a ruling that may set
a precedent for new ways to clean up Superfund sites. A public comment
period ended June 30.

One EPA official said the agency will be sure the landfill water will be
neither radioactive nor hazardous. Another questioned the idea.

The wheat field is owned by Denver's Metro sewage agency, which would
mix the waste with sewage sludge. **

Source: The Seattle Times, Today's News: Throughout the country, example
and example of hazardous wastes being turned into fertilizer, by Duff


Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 10:11:33 -0500
From: "Ferrer, Geraldo" <>
Subject: Further Note on Auto/Steel Recycling

Mostly everywhere, automobile recycling technology has not changed for
several decades. Prior to the oil shocks and the massive introduction
of plastics in the cars, a typical car made in the US had roughly 90% of
its weight made of carbon steel or wrought iron. That prompted the
development of a recycling operation that required little more than a
shredder and a magnetic separator.
Would you still consider this process efficient if the iron and steel
content dropped significantly? Actually, cars today contain less than
70% of steel, and this percentage keeps falling.
The good news is that car recycling generates 10 million tons of scrap
steel per year in the US (back of envelope estimate). If the recycler
does some pre-shredding separation, some lead and copper is also
recovered. The bad news is that 3-5 million tons of post-shredder waste
is generated each year by the auto recycling industry, not considering
the scrap from truck, bus and other equipment treated by these plants.
The market for scrap steel has also deteriorated. I've been told that
the increased variety of alloys is generating some problems at the steel
mills that use them. Different automakers select different alloys for
different parts of the car. Consequently, the ingredient that enriches
the steel for one brand of cars becomes the contaminant that spoils the
operation at the steel recycling mill. Hence, some steel mills have
lost interest in steel scrap, with effects on price.
The solution lies in the adoption of more comprehensive separation
processes of end-of-life vehicles (ELV). That would require the
adoption of new recycling technologies and the development of new
markets for raw materials and components in the car, other than the
steel. A short list would include glass, tires, cables, upholstery,
batteries, fluids... It is not a small task but it has been done.
The Dutch government established the incentives for improving the level
of ELV recycling. All cars licensed in the Netherlands are required to
be disposed through that process. That operation has been subsidized by
a $100 fee charged from every new vehicle at the time of the first
license. That fee has been reduced once, and it is expected to reduce
again as the technology develops and becomes profitable. Meanwhile, the
system has raised the recycling level from the typical 75% found
elsewhere in the world (US included) to more than 85%, and it keeps
going up.

That is amazing!

Geraldo Ferrer
The Kenan-Flagler Business School
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490

(919) 962-3272 Fax: (919) 962-6949 <>

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, January 30, 1998 1:43 PM
Subject: Further Note on Auto/Steel Recycling

In general, I would say the steel recycling industry (and scrap
in general) point the way toward successful recycling and
recovery. Glass too. These industries demonstrate that
industrial development with market based decision making can be
successful. And the auto and steel industries continue to make
that are phenomenal. I remember a talk by Phil Bailey (where is
these days anyway? he's no longer with ERG) of the Buy Recycled
Coalition once when he pointed out that the largest export from
the US
(by weight) was junk steel (mostly from autos) that was being
across the Pacific only to come back as new cars!


David Biddle
7366 Rural Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19119
215-247-2974 (voice and fax)


Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 16:31:46 -0600
From: Alicia Lyttle <>
Subject: Looking for a buy recycled bill

Looking for a buy recycled bill!
My rep, Errol "Romo" Romero, said he would sponsor a bill mandating
>government agencies to buy recycled paper. Been looking for a model bill,
>but so far I have come up with nothing. Does anyone have anything on hand,
or know where i can get any help or more information on this?
Thank you in advance!
mary tutwiler <>


Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 13:29:16 -0600
From: Susan Snow <>
Subject: Model bill mandating government agencies buy post consumer recycled

Does anyone have a model bill mandating that government agencies buy
recycled paper made with post consumer waste? What percentage of post
consumer wastes are being mandated in state legislatures?

Susan Snow


Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 23:26:40 -0500
From: "Bill Sheehan" <>
Subject: Precautionary Principle and Zero Waste

Zero Wasters,

The Precautionary Principle provides a philosophical rationale for Zero Waste.
The news release below includes a statement from a recent gathering.

-- Bill S.


For Immediate Release

New Principle to Protect Human Health and the Environment

When it comes to activities that affect human health and the
environment, "better safe than sorry" and "look before you leap" should
be the guiding principles, say environmental leaders who met in Racine,
Wisconsin, in late January.

At the conclusion of a three-day conference at Wingspread, headquarters
of the Johnson Foundation, the diverse group issued a statement calling
for government, corporations, communities and scientists to implement
the "precautionary principle" in making decisions.

According to their statement, "When an activity raises threats of harm
to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be
taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully
established scientifically."

The 32 participants included treaty negotiators, activists, scholars and
scientists from the United States, Canada and Europe. The conference was
called to define and discuss implementing the precautionary principle,
which has been used as the basis for a growing number of international

The idea of precaution underpins some U.S. policy, such as the
requirement for environmental impact statements before major projects
are launched using federal funds. But most existing laws and regulations
focus on cleaning up and controlling damage rather than preventing it.
The group concluded that these policies do not sufficiently protect
people and the natural world.

Participants expressed alarm about growing problems such as learning
deficiencies, cancer, and asthma as well as global climate change,
species extinction and ozone depletion, which are often difficult to
link with precise causes and predictable outcomes.

"The precautionary principle is common sense. We need to prevent
questionable practices rather than simply dealing with their bad
effects," said Ken Geiser of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
"We often don't know for sure what harm there will be until people have
suffered or the damage is irreparable. Scientists don't want to say what
will happen before they know for sure. By then, the damage is done."

"Most people think we already have the precautionary principle," said
Diane Takvorian, a community organizer with the Environmental Health
Coalition in San Diego, California. "Then something poisons their food
or water or makes them ill and they are surprised. They are outraged
that democracy doesn't seem to apply to their own health."

"Precaution is natural in our lives," said Gordon Durnil, a lawyer from
Indianapolis, Indiana. "From my perspective as a conservative
Republican, this is a conservative principle."

Durnil, who served during the Bush administration on a commission
established to resolve problems between the United States and Canada,
said, "I found a system that used scientific uncertainty as proof that
no harm was possible. Many policy makers and many in the public believe
that if you can't prove it is true, then it is not true."

Durnil said the commission learned that governments were stocking fish
in the Great Lakes and then were warning people not to eat those fish.
But when commissioners asked scientists what they knew about the effects
of pollutants on public health and wildlife, scientists were reluctant
to answer.

"Then we stopped asking scientists what they knew and started asking
them what they believed," Durnil said. "That's when we began getting at
the truth.

Carolyn Raffensperger, coordinator of a network that links scientists
with environmental groups and issues, said the precautionary principle
"has the potential to change how we make decisions about public health
and the environment. This principle challenges business and government
to think and act in a different way." Joel Tickner, also with the
network, elaborated by saying "the challenge is to act on a suspicion of
harm and be creative about those actions. Precautionary action may
include pursuing safer alternatives, restricting or phasing out
practices or substances, developing new "clean" technologies, or doing
nothing at all."

Participants noted that current policies such as risk assessment and
cost-benefit analysis give the benefit of the doubt to new products and
technologies, which may later prove harmful. And when damage occurs,
victims and their advocates have the difficult task of proving that a
product or activity was responsible.

The precautionary principle shifts the burden of proof, insisting that
those responsible for an activity must vouch for its harmlessness and be
held responsible if damage occurs.

"The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open,
informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties,"
the group's statement concluded.

Raffensperger added, "The role of science is essential. But the public
must be fully involved. Informed consent is just as essential."

The conference was convened by the Science and Environmental Health
Network, an organization that links science with the public interest,
and by the Johnson Foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the C.S.
Fund and the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University
of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle

The release and use of toxic substances, the exploitation of resources,
and physical alterations of the environment have had substantial
unintended consequences affecting human health and the environment.
Some of these concerns are high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma,
cancer, birth defects and species extinctions; along with global climate
change, stratospheric ozone depletion and worldwide contamination with
toxic substances and nuclear materials.

We believe existing environmental regulations and other decisions,
particularly those based on risk assessment, have failed to protect
adequately human health and the environment - the larger system of which
humans are but a part.

We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the
worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new
principles for conducting human activities are necessary.

While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must
proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history.
Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities,
scientists and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to
all human endeavors.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle:
When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the
environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause
and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public,
should bear the burden of proof.

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open,
informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties.
It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives,
including no action.



Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 15:19:56 -0600 (CST)
From: Rod McCormick <>
Subject: Renewal of product stewardship plans in Manitoba

As required by regulation, the business plans for Manitoba's
Multi-Material Stewardship Program and for the Tire Stewardship program
are up for review. The proposed plans each cover the years 1998 to 2001
and are available through Manitoba Environment's public registry system
and on through the following link:


Comments are invited until March 2, 1998.

Rod McCormick
Pollution Prevention
Manitoba Environment


End of GreenYes Digest V98 #29