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Re: [greenyes] Waste-to-Energy

Hi all,

I visited the Halifax (CANADA) regional facility last week where waste is subject to three cuts:

* kitchen and yard waste is collected in a green bin
* recyclable containers and paper are collected, commingled in blue bags
* 'waste' is collected and delivered to a municipal facility for "pre-treatment"

The 'waste' is debagged and run over a conveyor to pull out recyclable and hazardous materials. The remaining material is shredded up and "composted" for a period of time before being disposed in the landfill. (It contains 80% plastic and other trash residue and 20% organics.)

The representative who led the tour was asked if the landfill produced landfill gas. He replied that it did, but that the lag-period between introduction of 'pretreated material' and the production of gas was shorter than for non-pretreated waste. He is expecting, once enough time has elapsed to determine this, that the pretreated material will cease producing gas at an earlier time than untreated material normally does.


At 01:06 PM 3/8/2004, richard@no.address wrote:
As a strong supporter of per-treatment for over 20 years, I like to make the
comparison to the Clean Water Act that doesn't allow our communities to
discharge untreated sewage into our water ways -- So I support a 'Clean Land
Act' that doesn't allow the disposal of untreated wastes onto our land.

Once all of the organics have been 'pre-treated' [read 'composted'], then
there is no need to dispose of them, and landfilling of wastes that cause
leachate and methane is virtually eliminated.

Generally, the resolution to the argument has been based on short-term
costs - in most areas we can stick the garbage into the ground (today) at a
lower cost than diverting it - just the same way as manufacturers do not
have to internalize the costs of disposal of their products.

California adopted a requirement that communities had to divert 50% of their
generated wastes at whatever it cost to achieve that mandate - not just
divert to the tons that cost less than landfilling.

So if we eliminate the discussion as to what the cheapest alternative may
be, and focus back on the value of resources, and protecting our land and
water, it is a clear descision - do not discharge to land items that may
create leachate and foul our groundwater, do not discharge materials that
will decompose and generate methane. Reprocess these materials!

Richard Gertman

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