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Re: [GreenYes] Addendum on curbside glass recycling

How do you propose bridging the gap between the externality values you cite and the net revenue values that drive recycling program viability?  I suspect the human health and environmental costs for all of the commodities we throw out are far higher than their recycle values; in fact, glass is probably at the lower end.  

Yet, decisions have been made to exclude some materials.  In addition, maintaining materials in the recycle stream that are large net subtractions from the overall value of the other collected materials (due to low scrap value, high processing costs, and cross-contamination) can put the entire program at risk.  Were this being done to prevent some large environmental harm from disposal (e.g., with household hazardous waste) you can make a strong argument that net outflows are necessary nonetheless.  However, the case is far weaker with an inert material like glass.

While I agree that collecting a diversified portfolio of materials makes sense given volatile commodity prices that don't always move in the same direction.  However, a portfolio approach does not solve the problem of materials that over a long time period are of negative benefit as measured by direct economic costs.   

Do you advocate keeping such materials in forever?  If so, wouldn't you want to focus on those with the highest environmental costs?  Can you "fix" the economics of collection to make them turn positive (e.g., by lowering collection/processing costs or properly accounting for the cost savings through diversion)?  Can you force the problem back on the manufacturers, who risk losing the claim that "glass recycles" should many curbside programs drop the material from collection?  

Because theoretical calculations of external costs do not keep recycling solvent, I believe more comprehensive responses are needed.  I'd be interested in your ideas.



Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> "Jeff Morris" <> 03/13/02 04:26PM >>>
One thing I forgot in my long note. The $18 to $68 
human health cost estimate of upstream costs for 
throwing away glass rather than recycling glass is 
for just the 10 atmospheric and 17 waterborne 
pollutants covered by the EPA model. There are 644  
toxic chemicals and chemical compounds covered in 
EPA's Toxic Release Inventory and many tens of 
thousands of chemical substances in use in 
manufacturing. Some important substances not covered 
in the EPA model include air emissions of mercury 
and air and water emissions of dioxins. This is just 
another indication that we're barely scratching the 
surface in estimating the ecological benefits of 

Dr. Jeffrey Morris
Sound Resource Management - Bellingham Office
112 Ohio Street, Suite 202
Bellingham, WA 98225

360-738-0256 fax or 
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