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Re: [GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's NewYork Times

The technologies currently exist - and have existed - to separate most of
the referenced materials.  It takes money and time to build the plants - and
there isn't enough money and interest to build the plants.  As is the case
in most industries, only after enough plants are built and technologies
de-bugged will the unit cost of treatment be competitive with landfill costs
(short term business type costs).

Once there is a profitable plant, investors will fund others.  It seems to
be the tail/dog issue.

We can automate the separation process if the alternative disposal costs (in
current dollars) more than the cost of the automated process.  Until then,
we can't get investors.

I'd love to get the investment community on board - but they were never
altruistic, and with the current global economic situation, I can't see them
coming on board.

Sorry for the soap box but I've been frustrated for 34 years and am some
times wonder how much longer I can continue the fight in the absence of some
common sense.

Thanks for taking the time to get this far.

Ken Maltese
Maltese & Associates.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Koplow" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 9:34 AM
Subject: RE: [GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's NewYork

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:
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