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Re: [GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: My two cents on Tierney

I wish I could be confident in John Waddell's guess that anyone who would 
believe Tierney isn't reading the paper, but I am not.  I suspect that many 
of the same people who voted for George W (and endorse his various 
appointments: Whitman, Norton, O'Neill, etc.) DO indeed read the NYTimes and 
CAN be swayed by Tierney's anti-recycling tirades.  As such, I do think he 
represents a real threat to the formation of public opinions about recycling, 
which have already suffered as global warming etc. have moved onto center 
stage and competed for the limited attention span of the American public.

I agree with Waddell's suggestion that we should investigate the comparative 
economics of landfilling versus recycling, but I disagree that this is "the 
best way" or the only way to counter Tierney.  What if a new megafill is 
permitted somewhere in the NY metropolitan region and tip fees suddenly 
plummet--will that make it OK to stop recycling?  This is a narrowly 
constructed "downstream" view of the economics of solid waste management, and 
ignores other important issues:

1) the true economics of landfill disposal frequently discount environmental 
externalities (or direct costs) that will be realized in the future.

2) the "upstream" environmental externalities of replacement production for 
landfilled commodities is ignored in this landfill-based analysis.  This has 
nothing to do with Tierney's rejection of global commodity "scarcity;" it has 
to do with the multiple social and enviromental damages from virgin resource 
extraction and processing associated with manufacturing new consumer goods.

Because American per capita energy and resource consumption dwarfs that of 
people in the rest of the world, I believe that there IS some educational 
value to hands-on involvement in minimal at-home sorting of recyclables 
(co-mingled in a blue bin is fine with me, as is returning goods for a 
deposit refund), and I have serious reservations about moving toward a "dirty 
MRF" system which removes all conscious decision-making from the consum
er/disposer--even if a "dirty MRF" COULD produce marketable, clean recyclable 
commodities--which remains a question.  

Tierney pooh-poohs consumer separation of recyclables as a silly "religious" 
exoneration of our consumer "guilt", but what he is really saying is that he 
feels no guilt at all about the American piggy lifestyle--even if that 
lifestyle gets us into wars in the Persian Gulf, causes indigenous ways of 
life to be destroyed all over the world, contributes to global warming, soil 
erosion, groundwater contamination, acid rain, loss of biodiversity, etc.  To 
Tierney I say "OINK."

Jennifer Gitlitz

Senior Research Associate, Container Recycling Institute

Home office:

1010 Pleasant St.

Worcester, MA 01602

Phone: (508) 793-8516

eFax: (928) 833-0460


Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, Virginia  22209
Phone: (703) 276-9800  
Fax 703.276.9587

In a message dated 2/20/02 10:33:04 AM, writes:

<< This estimate applies to modifications to the existing infrastructure of 
MRFs.  As such, it does not change the basic cost structure of curbside very 
much, since separate manual sorts in households and separate pick-up at 
curbside continue to be required.  Have you ever seen cost estimates relating 
to materials recovery out of the compacted (or slightly less compacted) 
normal household waste stream?


Doug Koplow

Earth Track, Inc.

2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor

Cambridge, MA  02140

Tel:  617/661-4700

Fax: 617/354-0463


>>> "Michele Raymond" <> 02/20/02 10:06AM >>>

Dear Greenyes

We recently estimated that it would cost about $200 million to automate the 

nation's top MRF's for plastics sorting, including installation, etc.  The 

amounts to one cent per pound of resin sold in the U.S. for two years.

That's not much when you consider what is spent on PR from many of the big 

companies.  Note that more than $500 million moves through California's 

redemption program annually.

Manual sorting should be reduced in the future.  There seems to be no 

leadership or move to provide capital funding.


Michele Raymond

At 09:34 AM 2/20/02 -0500, Doug Koplow wrote:

>If you ignore his sarcasm on the idea of tolls as sacraments (though 

>cruising by a long toll line with an automatic toll transponder could be 

>close...), Tierney does raise one point worth further discussion.  I think 

>it is probably true that increased automation in materials separation 

>could make a huge difference in the economics of materials recovery.  Does 

>anybody on this list have insights as to the progress (or lack of 

>progress) in increased and expanded automated sorting?  What are the 

>current technical capabilities of the so-called "dirty MRFs" that take 

>commingled trash and recover recyclable materials from the waste 

>stream?  What are the major technical constraints towards breakthroughs in 

>recovery of recyclables from normal MSW streams?



>Doug Koplow

>Earth Track, Inc.

>2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor

>Cambridge, MA  02140

>Tel:  617/661-4700

>Fax: 617/354-0463




> >>> "Steen, Terri - Contractor" <> 02/20/02 

> 09:17AM >>>

>Ah, John "recycling is garbage" Tierney strikes again!  I believe in freedom

>of the press, but this guy.... Can't somebody educate him, or muzzle him, or

>discredit him?? Something??!!


>  -----Original Message-----

>From:   Reindl, John [] 

>Sent:   Monday, February 18, 2002 9:49 AM

>To:     BBAN; '' 

>Subject:        [GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's New York



>Given the subsidies to virgin materials, as well as un-internalized costs of

>landfills (a European estimate in December 2000 put this cost at about $16 a

>ton for new landfills, largely due to methane emissions), any evaluation of

>the economics of recycling vis--vis landfilling seems spurious to me.


>John Reindl, Recycling Manager

>Dane County, WI


> > -----Original Message-----

> > From: David Markert [] 

> > Sent: Friday, February 15, 2002 5:00 PM

> > To: BBAN

> > Subject: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's New York Times

> >

> >

> > Article below excerpted from today's New York Times.  I

> > especially like the

> > part about using the recycling budget to urge New Yorkers to

> > pick up litter

> > instead of for recycling.  Hah!  Does this guy even live in

> > New York?  That

> > strategy doesn't work anywhere else in this country, and it DEFINITELY

> > wouldn't work in New York.

> >

> > ******************************

> >

> > February 15, 2002

> > Rethinking the Rites of Recycling


> > Environmentalists may not like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's

> > proposal to

> > suspend the recycling of cans and bottles. But it could be

> > their best chance

> > to save their reputations and do some good for the environment.

> >

> > The recycling program was sold to New Yorkers nearly a decade

> > ago with the

> > promise that it would save money. It did not. If New York had instead

> > shipped all those recyclables to out-of-state landfills, the

> > city would have

> > saved more than half a billion dollars, and that figure

> > doesn't even include

> > the biggest costs, which are the labor and storage space that

> > citizens are

> > forced to donate to the cause.

> >

> > Recycling newspapers makes a certain amount of sense, because

> > used newsprint

> > often has economic value and people often have special bins for their

> > newspapers anyway. But why clutter the city with bins for

> > stuff that's less

> > than worthless? The city pays extra to collect and dispose of

> > the bottles

> > and cans, and then 40 percent of the stuff ends up in

> > landfills anyway.

> >

> > Could this sort of recycling ever pay for itself, as

> > environmentalists are

> > still promising? Maybe, but only if its devotees abandon

> > their passion for

> > hand-sorted trash and their belief that we're running out of natural

> > resources. They've expected recycling to become profitable as

> > raw materials

> > become more expensive, but they're on the wrong side of two historical

> > trends. For thousands of years, the costs of natural

> > resources have been

> > falling in relation to the cost of labor.

> >

> > Recycling might someday pay if the sorting were done not by

> > hand but by

> > machines. Miners and oil drillers have used computerized technology to

> > extract small concentrations of materials that would once have been

> > unprofitable. Maybe robots will one day profitably sift

> > garbage for minerals

> > and plastics.

> >

> > But many environmentalists don't like this vision. In some

> > cities, they've

> > fought plans to use automated sorting equipment because they

> > wanted people

> > to have the hands-on experience. Here in New York, one of the

> > most expensive

> > labor forces on the planet is being forced to sort materials

> > that third

> > world peasants wouldn't waste their time saving.

> >

> > Recycling has become a sacrament of atonement for buying too

> > much stuff -

> > for secretly loving stuff too much, as James B. Twitchell

> > explains in "Lead

> > Us Into Temptation," a study of consumer passions. "While we

> > claim to be

> > wedded to responsible consumption," he writes, "we spend a

> > lot of our time

> > philandering. Trash is lipstick on the collar, the telltale

> > blond hair."

> > Recycling is our way of saying, "I'm sorry, honey."

> >

> > Sinners have every right to repent, but in this country

> > religious sacraments

> > are not supposed to be legally mandated or publicly

> > subsidized. Recycling

> > bottles and cans next year would cost taxpayers more than $50

> > million. Why

> > don't its devotees find another ritual of atonement that

> > might help the

> > environment and save the city money?

> >

> >

> > SUPPOSE that all the time and money spent exhorting children

> > and adults to

> > recycle were spent instead urging each New Yorker to pick up

> > one piece of

> > litter each day. Millions of pieces of trash would disappear;

> > street-cleaning bills would plummet.

> >

> > Perhaps guilty consumers could get used to paying for their

> > sins with cash.

> > Environmentalists could urge the end of free trash

> > collection. If people had

> > to pay for each can of trash they produced, they'd find ways to reduce

> > waste, and the city budget would benefit.

> >

> > Or suppose environmentalists channeled their zeal for

> > recycling into another

> > political cause: putting tolls on the East River bridges.

> > These tolls would

> > have economic virtues (more on that in another column), while

> > also reducing

> > air pollution and fuel consumption by easing traffic congestion. The

> > recycling program, by contrast, increases local air pollution and fuel

> > consumption by putting extra trucks on the roads to collect

> > bottles and

> > cans.

> >

> > Could the act of paying a toll be turned into a sacrament?

> > Could children

> > and adults be trained to regard the toll as penance for the

> > extravagance of

> > owning a gas- guzzling, polluting machine?

> >

> > Some recycling devotees might not be satisfied. Paying a toll

> > on the East

> > River bridges might seem too simple, too antiseptic, too easy

> > by comparison

> > with the mortification of sorting garbage. For these

> > ascetics, maybe the

> > best ritual would be for them to get out of their cars

> > altogether and walk

> > across the bridges, possibly on their knees. For extra penance, these

> > pilgrims could carry sacks filled with old bottles and cans.

> >

> > ******************************

> >

> > David Markert

> > Container Recycling Institute

> > 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 702

> > Arlington, VA   22209

> > Tel:  703-276-9800

> > Fax:  703-276-9587

> > E-mail: 

> >

> > 

> > 

> >

> >

> > _______________________________________________

> > bb-action-ntwk mailing list

> > 

> > 

> > To unsubscribe, email with

> > your request.

> >


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Michele Raymond


Recycling Laws International/ State Recycling Laws Update

5111 Berwyn Rd. Ste 115 College Park, MD 20740)

301/345-4237   Fax 345-4768 


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Jennifer Gitlitz

Senior Research Associate, Container Recycling Institute

Home office:

1010 Pleasant St.

Worcester, MA 01602

Phone: (508) 793-8516

eFax: (928) 833-0460


Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, Virginia  22209
Phone: (703) 276-9800  
Fax 703.276.9587
To post to the greenyes list,
email to:

Subscription information for
this list is available here:

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