GreenYes Digest V98 #2

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Fri, 22 Jan 1999 17:35:12 -0500

GreenYes Digest Wed, 7 Jan 98 Volume 98 : Issue 2

Today's Topics:
meeting 'recycling' goals--send me your ideas
questions on batteries
Tyvek Advertising
Tyvek Contact at DuPont
Zero Waste & Producer Responsibility

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Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 08:27:53 -0800
From: Helen Spiegelman <>
Subject: meeting 'recycling' goals--send me your ideas

Hi, Bruce:

The failure of Alameda Co. and many other jurisdictions to achieve the 50%
reduction goal should be a wake-up call. It highlights the fundamental flaw
in a policy approach that puts the onus on traditional waste management
systems to stem the tide of effluent.

The clue, present in almost all discussions of the 50% goal, is the
plaintive observation:

> I don't believe that
>source reduction is at all adequately addressed, but that's an issue for
>another day.

In fact, source reduction is zero waste's manifest destiny.

Measures that *divert* waste from a commingled municipal solid waste
*stream* are inherently inefficient... recovering eggs from the omelet.

Until we abandon the traditional concept of *municipal solid waste* and
begin to deal with waste as the *post-consumer stage* of a product's
life-cycle, we struggle in vain with *gaps*.

A case in point: bottle bill systems routinely *divert* 80 plus percent of
targeted containers. Imagine the impact on local waste *streams* if a
bounty were paid by producers on the following surplus and obsolete items:
newspapers, paper packaging, junk mail, textiles, electronics and
appliances and auto hulks, pallets and pallet stretchwrap -- to name just
the first few that come to my mind. Imagine if Advance Disposal Fees stiff
enough to act as an economic deterrent were applied to the material
designated in my local community as *miscellaneous combustibles*!


Helen S.

(BTW: I submitted an abstract of a paper making this argument to a
Canadian federal government meeting on Extended Producer Responsibility,
and it was rejected: too radical even for Canadian audiences!)

At 05:48 PM 1/5/98 PST, you wrote:
> Alameda County (California) has a 50% "recycling" goal for the year
> 2000. We probably won't make it and so are soliciting ideas for
> ways to try to close the "gap". We already have a wide range of
> programs--we're looking for those that are plausible to implement
> on the county level, but that are more innovative or controversial.
> The following is an (expected) excerpt from the January, 1997
> newsletter of the Northern California Recycling Association.
> There is a spiffy graph not in this text version, but it will be
> in the newsletter and both can be found at:
> Feel free to redistribute this.
>Is there a "Gap" in Alameda County's Future?
>by Bruce Nordman
>member, Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board ("Recycling
>Like the rest of California, Alameda County and its constituent cities
>must meet "recycling"(1) goals mandated by AB 939, including the 50%-by-2000
>goal. The legislature has already weakened the goals, and can be expected
>to do so again in the coming years, particularly with pressure from
>regions that are less far along than Alameda County. Thus, we may not
>need to be concerned about meeting state requirements.
>However, Alameda County faces another mandatethe one insisted on by the
>electorate in 1990 when Measure D was passed. Measure D also has a 50%
>requirement (though on the county as a whole, not the individual cities),
>but it is separate from the state's goal and so not affected by any
>lenience the state promulgates (Measure D also has a further 75% goal!).
>There is reason to be concerned that we will fail to meet that mandate,
>and since 2000 is now less than 2 years away, we should consider actions
>beyond what we otherwise would have had we been on a track to meeting the
>obligation. As the responsible agency, the Recycling Board is formally
>asking anyone with suggestions on actions we might take to forward them
>for possible consideration (see below).
>Alameda County made the laudable progress from a 13% to 39% diversion rate
>from 1990 to 1996. At that rate of improvement, we would be well on our
>way to 50%. However, over half of the reduction was in the first year,
>there has been essentially no progress since 1994, and most programs to
>increase diversion (such as curbside collection) have been implemented
>nearly county- wide. Board staff recently noted that "Unfortunately,
>preliminary figures for early 1997 suggest that the amount of waste
>disposed [unadjusted for population and economic expansion] is now
>increasing"(2). We do not have a scenario outlined for how the 50% goal
>could be obtained. Thus, while we may make some progress in the next 2
>years, we seem to be facing a 'gap' of perhaps 5 to 10%.
>There are other reasons to believe the gap exists. The amount of Alameda
>County waste landfilled in 1990 was about 10% higher than 1989 and more
>than 20% higher than 1991. Thus, 1990 seems to be an anomalously high
>year (possibly due to the 1989 earthquake), and so not truly reflective of
>our landfilling practices for that general period of time. Additionally,
>about 7% of the material currently deposited in private landfills in the
>county is "Alternative Daily Cover", and is not counted in the above
>figures. While some of this may be environmentally appropriate (e.g.
>auto shredder fluff), it does not seem to qualify as "recycling" under
>Measure D's definitions, so should be considered landfilled material for
>purposes of calculating diversion rates. These two factors could easily
>raise the 'gap' to 20%.
>Based on the above, the evidence for the gap seems overwhelming, and no
>one could reasonably argue that a gap is implausible. As the agency
>responsible for meeting Measure D's mandate, I believe that the Recycling
>Board would be negligent if it did not seek out innovative ways to close
>the gap. While the cities, non-profits, private sector, and the agency
>all have plans for efforts to increase diversion, the gap suggests that we
>need to think "outside the box" about ways we might close itto explore
>efforts that we might not consider in the absence of a gap.
>In response to board concern about the possible gap, the staff sent a
>letter to interested parties soliciting one-sentence ideas for possible
>consideration. Unfortunately, that letter did _not_ include the
>information about a likely gap which was the reason for the letter in
>the first place.
>An obvious example of a "gap-filler" is a ban from landfilling of
>materials that seem readily divertable, such as construction waste or yard
>debris. Some have proposed different kinds of facilities. Policy
>approaches (such as trying to regionalize Measure D) may also be worthy of
>consideration. At this stage we are only seeking one-sentence
>descriptions of an effort (though references for further information are
>appropriate) to be used in deciding which gap-fillers to do more research
>on. Please send your ideas to the board (and feel free to cc: me). The
>bottom line is that if Alameda County fails to meet the Measure D mandate,
>it will not be a surprise. If we have done our best and failed, I am
>satisfied; however, if we have not considered leading-edge methods to
>reach the goal, I believe we will have failed to carry out the law as
>The Source Reduction and Recycling Board can be reached at 510-614-1699 or
> Bruce an be reached at 510-486-7089 or
>1The recycling goals are often "diversion" or "disposal reduction" goals,
>ostensibly to incorporate source reduction as well. I don't believe that
>source reduction is at all adequately addressed, but that's an issue for
>another day.
>2Staff report to Recycling Board Committee of the Whole, on "Project to
>Revise the Agency Strategic Plan and Recycling Plan", November 13,
>1997--also the source for most of the figures used here.
Helen Spiegelman
Vancouver, British Columbia

604/731-8463 (fax)


Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 15:14:53 -0600
From: "Rogers, John" <>
Subject: questions on batteries

I believe that H.R. 2024, "The Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable
Battery Management Act" bans most batteries from containing mercury and
allows only alkaline-manganese button batteries to have no more than 25
milligrams of mercury per button cell. I think zinc-carbon batteries
have not been manufactured with mercury since about 1992-1993. Some
batteries may contain trace amount of mercury not purposeful introduced
into the battery.

Let me know if you need more information.

> ----------
> From: Susan Snow[]
> Sent: Friday, January 02, 1998 10:47 AM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: questions on batteries
> Can anyone tell me which batteries contain mercury? Do lead-acid
> batteries, also contain mercury? What happens to the mercury when
> batteries are recycled?
> Susan Snow


Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 15:29:49 -0500
From: "Lisa Beavers" <>
Subject: Tyvek Advertising

In response to the whole Tyvek situation I compiled this article, which ran
in a local paper on Sat. Jan 3rd. Please feel free to use as you want.

Chapel Hill Herald article for Saturday, January 3rd.
Product Responsibility: What is it and who's is it?
By Lisa Beavers, Orange Community Recycling

The December 22nd issue of Business Week had a full page ad by DuPont made
of their nearly impossible to tear material Tyvek. The ad also appeared in
the following publications: USA Today, Investor's Business Daily, The Wall
Street Journal, Barron's, Business Week, Forbes, Architectural Digest,
Institutional Investor, National Journal, Bloomberg Personal, Smithsonian,
US News & World Report, National Review, Harper's, Art News, Ivy League
Network, Roll Call, Economist.

Local recycling dealers, including Paper Stock Dealers, have told Orange
Community Recycling that that Tyvek is a no-no in ANY grade of paper you
might try to market, including the lowest of residential mixes. The Tyvek is
a major contaminant. Nationally, inclusion of one of this material has
already resulted in the serious downgrading of the recyclable feedstock that
include magazines.

We therefore request that citizens and businesses not include these
magazines or newspapers in their curbside or drop-off materials or cut out
the ads before recycling the magazine. Also, contact DuPont and the other
publications to let them know some of the difficulties their marketing
decisions made on the recycling markets for this type of paper. Web
addresses include and
DuPont's phone number is 1-800-441-7515.

DuPont has acknowledged that while the Tyvek ad is not recyclable mixed in
with paper, Tyvek material by itself is recyclable and they will be glad to
do so if people will take a pair of scissors, cut out the ads, and send them
to DuPont Tyvek, DMP LR2E5, Box 80705, Wilmington, Delaware 19880-0705.

What does this single incident point out? Did DuPont realize that by
producing this "innovative and imaginative" ad they might be sabotaging
recycling business operations around the country? It signals that, in this
case, both the advertising departments of the various publications or DuPont
themselves just didn't think that far ahead or perhaps just didn't care.
Does it mean that there are no environmentally sensitive folks working in
advertising and marketing departments? Of course not. But it does cause
recyclers and others concerned with more than the immediate "bottom line" to
pause and consider if many CEOs, or managers ask the question, "okay, what
will happen to this product when it's useful life is over"?

Should they have to?

Especially at this season, we are all bombarded with holiday gifts arriving
in piles of packaging including all forms of styrofoam type plastic. The
amount of packaging that is neither reusable nor locally recycable is
incredibly high. Orange Community Recycling has NO recycling market for
styrofoam. What we do have is a list of local stores that have agreed to
take the peanut form for reuse. We have no market for any plastics numbered
3 (vinyl), 4 (low density polyethylene) or 6 (polystyrene). At present,
they can go to only the round filing cabinet under the sink. Some people
call it "File 13". The list of euphemisms for sending it to the landfill
could go on and on. The onus is on the consumer not the manufacturer to
"dispose of properly". In China styrofoam is referred to as "white garbage"
and they are banning it nationwide. Unfortunately they are replacing it with
paper and they don't have many trees in China.

One glaring example of product non-responsibility that I am familiar with is
single use propane tanks. These are the type used by plumbing
do-it-yourselfers or taken camping for cooking stoves. One would think that
these "convenience items" are a easily recycled metal item. They are not.
Without the ability to puncture the tank safely to release and capture the
remaining propane, there are no options for recycling. When disposed of in
household or business waste these pressurized tanks are an explosion hazard
when compacted in garbage trucks.

We take these tanks at our Household Hazardous Waste collections, which
start again March 7. Prior to purchasing equipment to safely puncture the
tanks and capture the remaining gas, we had to pay our Hazardous Waste
Contractor $75.00 each to properly dispose of them. An item that costs only
about of ten dollars retail, could cost seven times that much to dispose of.

Could Coleman Industries, the leading manufacturer this product, set up some
sort of return system similar to large propane tanks used on home grills? It
seems Coleman and other tank manufacturers could save money by reusing a
tank already made than having to make one completely from scratch.

Implementing producer responsibility will go a long way towards solving our
solid waste dilemma. In a democratic and capitalist system this won't be
easy. Let's make a New Year's resolution to let producers know they're
responsible for what they make. Caveat vendor.

One article that explores Extended Product Responsibility in detail was
co-authored by a team of researchers from the University of Tennessee and
appears in the September issue of Environment magazine. The article, titled
"Extended Product Responsibility: A New Principle for Sustainable Production
and Consumption," explores several EPR approaches.
Lisa Beavers
phone: 919-968-2788
fax: 919-932-2900
"Life is too short not to travel to strange and exotic places and get sick
again and again......."


Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 13:58:08 -0600
From: "John Reindl" <>
Subject: Tyvek Contact at DuPont

For those of you in the paper recycling area that have some concern
about the Tyvek ads that were in the newspapers and magazines, I
thought you might like to know that DuPont is receptive to hearing
about the effects that their ads are having on recycling.

They are also interested in helping out to the extent that they
can, including having people rip out the ads and send them back to
DuPont as was noted in an earlier email message.

In my conversation with DuPont today, they said that they will do
some more background investigations and plan to get back to me
with more information, which I will pass along to the email list.

My comment to DuPont was that it would be best for the industry to
establish some policies to prevent incompatible materials (Tyvek,
Mylar, packets of shampoo or body lotion, UV covers, etc) from being
placed in magazines or newspapers.

If you would like to talk to DuPont yourself, the contact is Maryann
McGuire at (800)448-9835.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI
(608)267-1533 - fax
(608)267-8815 - phone


Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 10:51:59 -0600
From: Anne Morse <>
Subject: Zero Waste & Producer Responsibility

Helen and Peter,

I, too, concur.

In the ZeroWaste project we are pursuing here over the next two years,
it is my intention that we will evaluate and assist in redirecting items
in the waste stream for reduction first, reuse secondarily, and then for

And for those materials that do not meet the criteria for these
catagories, .....well, then they become the cases where we pursue the
manufacturer to assume responsibility for their handling.

In this way we may get real buy-in by the manufacturerers, i.e. their
support in improving the effectiveness of our reuse and recycling
infrastructure, so as to keep them out of the EPR process.

Anne Morse
Dept. of Waste Prevention
Winona County, Minnesota
Phone 507/457-6468
E-mail: amorse

> ----------
>From: RecycleWorlds[]
>Sent: Monday, January 05, 1998 9:25 AM
>To: GreenYes
>Subject: Zero Waste & Producer Responsibility
>In the 1/5/98 GreenYes, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
>"Can we really say that all 208 million tonnes of trash are in fact
>reusable? So much trash does not fit into Dan Knapp's 12 categories
>running shoes? Ripped and doodled vinyl 3-ring binders? vapour-seal
>dog-food bags? foil potato chip bags?) And so much that does, poses
>challenges to the "facilities" that Dan hopes will "process" the
>and make them available to "industry".
>"The problem, as I see it, is that the consumer products we all use
>day continue to be *designed to be wasted*. The reason for this, I
>is that the producers lose nothing from wasting. THis is because
>communities have cheerfully taken on the burden of making the waste
>disappear, at higher and higher cost, and with arguably incommensurate
>"I think that we need to be conceptualizing zero waste as a design
>not for *waste managers*, but for *producers*.
>"Rather than encourage communities to build facilities to sort the
>of affluence into 12 categories, I (along with Reid Lifset) foresee
>*industries* that actually produce the effluent teaming up to create
>own facilities to serve consumers in local communities where their
>are sold. The cost of operating these
>facilities will serve as an incentive to *design for zero waste* -- or
>close to it..."
>Peter Anderson
>RecycleWorlds Consulting
>4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
>Madison, WI 53705-4964
>Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011


End of GreenYes Digest V98 #2