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[GreenYes] Zero Waste plans


Dear Eric and Enzo;
 
Many in this list know i have spent nearly 40 years in this business.  As a Staff Scientist with an Engineering firm, I was a part of the EPA and California State garbage sorting efforts in the 70ies and initiated sorts in Fresno 1980ies (500,000 people) and later in the 1990ies (San Diego County 3.5 million people). Today as a consultant to regional government,  i continue to spend time at disposal sites. 
 
Eliminating all compostable organics from the landfill by law eliminates the biological part of the MBT.
 
Currently my firm is contracted to prepare resource management not waste management plans.
 
However  in LA we have looked at recent sorts and see  a non marketable residual comprised primarily of nappies and treated wood.  In the 12 basic  market categories we find  a total of 7% residual of badly designed materials, some  in each sorting category (paper, plastic, glass, etc).  It seems to me that EPR is a better way to manage these discards than building a expensive magic black box.
 
The problem  in the plants we have looked at is that a comprehensive mandatory separation program was not in place.  We still make  people walk to recycle or compost or discard hazardous materials and pick up wasted resources and mistakes mixed in a truck.  This is happening in many of the places i have visited in the world.  What ended up at the MBT plant in Germany was mostly dry material, organic in that it was wood and plastic but not what you would call; the pathogen generating organics.  This material has lead, cadmium, and mercury.  Stuff that fell through the cracks.  Some of was what is now identified as WEE (electronic discards).  Soaked in water the residual was full of heavy metals and burned in a paper mill (sounds like WtE to me).
 
In towns in northern Italy and Japan, they have reach 90% through required and comprehensive programs.
 
Why would we build a bridge, are we trying to escape the problem. We need to  organize and manage the problems where we stand.
 
My problem is that I know from experience, that if we spent half  as much money as we spend on these magic boxes on social education, ordinance and tax reform, and  comprehensive collection and processing systems, we would solve this problem.  The products like diapers which require a redesign would be relegated to EPR actions and banned in communities until  they complied with the discard management requirements.
 
Its pretty late in the struggle to still allow volunteer wasting systems to exist.  Some say the ice cap fell off a cliff last week.
 
Enzo we need a international dialog.  I was in Sicily in December and the passion on this  issue that is happening in Italy is of concern to the world.  If we could come up with $50,000 euros of EU or other funds we could bring all these international experts to Rome and work out these details.  It is clear that this should happen this spring and ZWIA should make it happen.
 
with hope
Rick 
 
I want to expand upon the key starting point I made in introducing this "bridge strategy" concept, and which Enzo reminded us, and that is the need for a workable strategy to kill new incinerator proposals as they are emerging everywhere.  For my American peers, we also need to fight the emerging "new and improved landfill" called a bioreactor that Waste Management Inc. and all the other "integrated solid waste professionals" (ISWM) seem to think is the alternative to incinerators.  But these "bioreactors" are a joke... and they are winning more contracts than the Zero Wasters... so who is the joke on?   Our goal should be to create a technological-financial-political proposal that can compete at the table with a $100 million incinerator or bioreactor project.  Until we grow up, (and that line is sure to start a firestorm of debate!),  we will be delegated to be the head of the kids table at dinner.

Let's remember to not kill the good in pursuit of the perfect.  Credibility comes with speed of execution, and it's time for us to move.

That's enough pithy cliche's for one day!
 



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