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[greenyes] Zero Waste Trip Report

Recycle Scene
Spring 2004
Richard Anthony

Zero Waste Trip Report

This year instead of looking for zero waste, we looked for opportunities to
promote a zero waste systems approach. The use of “residuals” or “other”
categories in analyzing discards create the justification for an integrated waste
management approach which includes incinerators and landfills.

Because the National Recycling Congress will be held in San Francisco August
29, 2004; The California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) held our
conference in March in Sacramento. My topics this year were, “How to do a better job
in making recycling convenient and available in commercial and multifamily
areas, and why we need Training and Methodology for proper Resource Management.

At the same time we received initiations to speak in Gouda, Paris, London and
Waterville New Hampshire. In each case the request was for a discussion on
the ideology and methodology of a zero waste systems approach to discard
management. Thus with presentations grown in California we flew to Europe and
Northeast USA to meet with recyclers.

After rain for nearly a month, on the Sunday in May when we arrived in the
Netherlands, the rain stopped. We had clear and sunny weather for the next two
weeks. This is good because Debbie and I met Anne Sheinberg in Den Haag where
we rented bikes to tour the city and ride to the North Sea for dinner with
Hans. Anne works for WASTE in Gouda and the next day I presented my papers to
their principals and staff.

At noon, from Gouda I caught a train to Paris where on the train I find that
my friend and partner in many projects for the Institute for Local Self
Reliance Neil Seldman, is sitting in my seat. At the Hotel de la Paix Tour Eiffel,
we see Gary Liss and Pat Miller and meet old and new friends from America,
Wales, England, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Philippines, Nova Scotia, and
Colorado, all part of our group. Didier Toque, President of Decentralisation and
Initiatives Locales (DIL) from France is also there and we all go to dinner
to discuss the coming event.

The first day some are assigned to media conferences, some go to meet members
of parliament, and my group is assigned the government staff. This is where
integrated waste management plans are written and defended. In Paris half of
the power is gotten from Nuclear and the other half by burning garbage. This
comes at a huge cost, as this system charges for service and even though some
energy is produced, jobs and resources are lost. Waste reduction threatens
the put or pay long term agreements the local governments have with the
incinerators and the landfills.

The whole team met in the Paris City Hall (with painted murals on the
ceilings, and mirrors and chandeliers) with the Paris Waste Management Division
including the Syndicate (French for the landfill and incinerator operators). After
a lot of discussion through interpreters about how hard it would be to
recycle everything in Paris, the Syndicate representative asked what we zero wasters
thought they could do with the 30% residual from their incinerators.

The conference entitled “Zero Waste: Unachievable or Realistic Target” was
attended by 350 French local elected officials, their staff, members of the
Syndicate and a few surprises. Our team of zero waste programs spent the day
discussing why their Country, City, Region, made the decision to go for zero
waste as a goal and with what results. In some cases “residuals” were high.
Several Mayors of French towns offered that with 50% recycling and 50% burning
their cities were at zero waste.

My talk on jobs and sustainability was up first the next morning. I used the
12 master categories that have been defined by Dan Knapp of Urban Ore in
Berkeley Calif. where reusable and 11 categories of materials are defined by
markets and processing compatibility. I used pictures and charts that showed these
materials, their value, percentage of the discard stream and the related jobs
that were threatened by burn and bury disposal systems. The first comment
was by a representative of the Syndicate who announced that they recycled metal
and glass at the incinerator but paper was not worth anything. The second
speaker was a surprise. He represented a French paper mill and he admonished the
speaker saying,”… Mr. Anthony is right I will pay for all the paper I can get

Saturday a group of us met with GAIA supporters in a building by a park in a
suburb of Paris. We could not resist taking a picture on the way there (zero
waste experts in Paris) in front of the Eiffel tower. On Sunday we visited
Monet’s House and garden.

The next day we are off to London for the Community Recycling Network (CRN)
Conference. “Catch the Recycling Bug”. The CRN is the NRC of England. The
conference reception was on a boat with dinner and a band floating down the
Thames River under the London Bridge at sunset. In England the government is
funding nonprofits to do reuse, repair and recycling. After the 12 categories
talk at the zero waste panel, the Mayor of Doncaster, Martin Winter who’s City
has adopted a zero waste goal and plan, went on to say a lot more about why it
is a good thing for his city to go for zero waste. The final day included a
visit to Westminster Abbey, lunch in a Pub, a matinee live show (Chicago) and
Greek food for dinner.

Its June now and I have just returned from Waterville New Hampshire for the
Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) conference. One of the first
and oldest Recycling Associations, NRRA is also a market cooperative that helps
the rural communities of the Northeast sell recyclable commodities. This year
the market spoke persons called for recycle material collectors to sell to
local markets.

In San Francisco on August 26 and 27 2004, The Global Recycling Council of
CRRA in partnership with over 50 groups and people will host the first
international dialog about the proper disposal of discards in the new millennium
( The last day for receiving
papers will be June 30, 2004. The event will begin the discussion and evaluation
of integrated waste management and define the methodology of the zero waste
approach. This discussion and the Saturday GRRN Zero Waste Teach-in Oakland
August 28 will make it worthwhile to come to San Francisco for the NRC Congress
and tours.
San Diego, California

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