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Re: [GreenYes] Re: Single Stream Processing - Pro and Con
Good morning, Roger!

I apologize if I sounded flip in my one-word response to your question! The 
concept I was hanging out for consideration is indeed one that challenges 
the conventional wisdom that has shaped waste policy for over a century. 
What I am trying to suggest is that convenient, publicly funded 
single-stream collection systems 'compete unfairly' against 
source-separated systems -- in exactly the same way garbage collection 
'competes unfairly' against recycling.

First, it establishes a very low bar, accepting levels of 'yield loss' that 
are unnecessarily high (I think if citizens knew how much curbside material 
was going to landfills they would consider it unacceptable).
Second, because of either the monopolistic nature or the taxpayer subsidy, 
it makes other alternative collection systems unable to compete.

As you suggested in your posting yesterday, there is nothing stopping a 
person from sorting trash and selling it to a scrap dealer for money. And 
that happens in informal ways even under the present inhospitable 
conditions, in which trash and recyclables are sealed up in plastic bags 
and community mores as well as anti-scavenging laws restrict access to the 
contents by people who would possibly be willing to add value to them and 
return them to the economy.

During the price spikes of 1995 we saw 'mosquito fleets' high-grading the 
fibres that were set out for municipal crews to collect. Every day I see 
scavengers pushing shopping carts high-grading the refundable beverage 
containers in the Blue Boxes in my neighbourhood. In a local suburb the 
City declares one week each spring as "Clean up Week" and encourages 
citizens to put re-usable trash out in their back lanes for grabs. Fine 
up-standing citizens as well as entrepreneurs troll the lanes high-grading 
all sorts of stuff that would go to the trash the rest of the year.

It is a very basic first step for local waste authorities to cease 
providing services that discourage this sort of activity. It is an equally 
important second step for governments to regulate to 'add value' to discard 
products, through refundable deposits, recycled content mandates or other 
measures. A growing number of governments are even taking the third step, 
which is to tell manufacturers of products designed to be picked up by city 
sanitation crews that they can no longer count on 'free' disposal or 
recycling at taxpayer expense.

So you see, it's just my usual rant,

Helen.

Helen.




At 10:36 AM 04/26/2002 -0400, Roger Guttentag wrote:
>OK, do you have any examples of where this concept has been put into
>practice or even being considered?
>
>Roger M. Guttentag
>610-584-8836
>rgutten@concentric.net
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Helen Spiegelman <hspie@telus.net>
>To: <greenyes@grrn.org>
>Sent: Friday, April 26, 2002 1:50 AM
>Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Re: Single Stream Processing - Pro and Con
>
>
> > Yes, Roger.
> >
> >
> > At 12:12 AM 04/26/2002 -0400, Roger Guttentag wrote:
> > >(Note to GreenYesers: in order to keep this email reasonable in length -
> > >please refer to previous communications on this topic under the
>discussion
> > >thread labeled "Re: 2002 Recycling Today Paper Recycling Conference
>Report")
> > >
> > >Dear Helen:
> > >
> > >I must confess that I did not understand your message.  If I wanted to
> > >realize the additional value of my recyclables by sorting them, there is
> > >nothing stopping me from then selling them to a buy-back operation.  Are
>you
> > >suggesting that there should be multiple recycling collection systems
> > >serving the same community serving different constituencies that are
> > >differentiated by willingness to sort?
> > >
> > >Sincerely,
> > >
> > >Roger M. Guttentag
> > >610-584-8836
> > >rgutten@concentric.net
> > >
> > >----- Original Message -----
> > >From: Helen Spiegelman <hspie@telus.net>
> > >To: <greenyes@grrn.org>
> > >Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 11:59 AM
> > >Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Re: 2002 Recycling Today Paper Recycling
>Conference
> > >Report
> > >
> > >
> > > > Michele,
> > > >
> > > > As a fellow free-enterpriser, I have to challenge you on your analysis
>of
> > > > the issue of fibre sorting!
> > > >
> > > > You suggest that it is a *social* issue whether fibre products should
>be
> > > > sorted  ("not possible to educate all consumers", "OK for middleclass
> > > > suburban neighbourhoods" etc.). While this observation scratches the
> > >truth,
> > > > it falls short of proposing a solution.
> > > >
> > > > Sure some people's time is too valuable to waste it sorting their
>garbage
> > > > -- those people should be expected to pay a price for having someone
>else
> > > > do it. That's not what happens in our municipal recycling systems.
> > > >
> > > > If we design inflexible collection systems that do not allow some
> > >motivated
> > > > consumers to reap economic benefits by adding value to their discards
>by
> > > > sorting them, then we miss an opportunity to make recycling more
> > >efficient.
> > > > This is not a question of 'education' it is a question of economics.
> > > >
> > > > IMHO, the last thing the city should do is provide free collection of
> > > > unsorted fibres. This distorts the market by rewarding those who don't
> > >take
> > > > the trouble to sort. It diverts a huge volume of otherwise high-grade
> > >fibre
> > > > from the market. It shuts out those who would like to realize economic
> > > > benefits by sorting their trash. It also perpetuates the crude 19th
> > >century
> > > > infrastructure of 'professional' trash sorters (what advanced
>professional
> > > > training does it require to stand at a malodorous conveyor and pick
>news
> > > > and OCC off a stream of MWP?)
> > > >
> > > > Until we free fibres from captivity in uneconomic monopolistic
>collection
> > > > systems we will never reach zero waste.
> > > >
> > > > Just my opinion, of course! :)
> > > >
> > > > Helen.
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> > >******************************************
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