Terminology is important, and in this case it's a clear indicator of a subjective bias. Defining all discard categories as "waste" is mental programming to view them as worthless, since that is what waste means.
Single-stream, ADC, "conversion technologies," dirty mrfs and contaminated resources are the direct result. We who do clean forms of recycling find ourselves defending quality production against wasters grabbing market share, hoodwinking gullible electeds, and flooding markets with lowgrade and even dangerous feedstocks.
For those of us who actually work in recycling, such terminology can be the basis for lawsuits or regulatory actions to put us out of business or to keep us from competing for supply with the wasters. It's bad positioning for our industry and for our businesses to allow such pejorative labels to be pinned on us.
Also for those of us who actually work in recycling, we can only take time to attend a few conferences a year, even if we're speakers. To go to one so biased in its upfront formulation is a loser's game. I'm sure that the conference promoters will be courteous to the outsiders and all that, but don't expect any of our heartfelt or research-based opinions and information to have any effect on what they actually do.
By the way, one of the reasons other states are so far behind California is that they have never fought like we have to institute our resource-friendly terminology and mental programming. When the language you use requires translation even for you to think clearly about a problem, then the solutions you propose are unlikely to be much good. Terminological confusion about words like "waste" and "disposal" and "diversion" is one big reason why there is so much bogus "recycling" out there today. Ironically, the proof of this is also in California, with the ADC fraud still propping up most communities' "diversion rates" because they get to destroy materials and landfill them and still claim recycling credit for what they do. FRAUD!
Again, I wish attendees well at your solid waste conference, but I will not be among them.
Dan Knapp, Ph.D. and CEO
Urban Ore, Inc.
On Jun 3, 2008, at 9:53 PM, Marjorie J. Clarke, Ph.D. wrote:
At 10:44 PM 6/3/2008, Dan Knapp wrote:
But for me it raises a question: what's Green about waste? This Solid Waste symposium in its call for papers uses the word waste 16 times in its long list of suggested topics. That's really quite a drumbeat.
How about using the word discards? Unlike wastes, discards can be wasted or conserved. That neutral word is never once used in the conference agenda.
I think I sent the link to an article I wrote about NYC leaving waste and production impacts entirely out of NYC's carbon footprint for the Gotham Gazette, a month or two ago, where I used the term discards quite a bit (or at least in my first unedited version to Sustainability Watch and the GG).
I didn't write the call for papers or prepare the agenda, but I have sent your comments along to the person who does. There have been plenty of papers from people like me that fall well into the purview of zero waste and we have been giving papers like that at this venue for at least 15 years. Because they don't use the same language is not as important. Recycling and waste prevention are still just that. You should know that the vast majority of papers given at this conference are from third world countries.
So all discards are wastes. I conclude there is not much room for clean recycling (or recyclers) at this conference.
Are you saying that unless a conference is a 100% zero waste conference that there is no room for waste prevention, recycling and composting at the conference? Even in this country, most of the states are way behind California. I'm surprised anyone would put down a conference that does have sessions on upper hierarchy topics. In the East (and many places, actually), when they hold solid waste conferences, they call them that even if zero waste topics are on the agenda. If lower hierarchy methods were to be excluded, and all those sessions and attendees disappeared, I have a feeling the economics of the conference would not work and there would be no conference.
I know that in California you can make a zero waste conference work. And we had one in NYC once. I attended the one on April 1 in Oakland. But I think it's better to enlighten people who attend about advanced topics in our arena, even if only part of the agenda for the conference covers it. All or nothing won't work everywhere. Yet. If those who have the enlightened information withhold it from those who don't, how will we ever progress?
There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.
John F. Kennedy
Maggie Clarke, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist, Educator
New York City