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[GreenYes] Re: Zero waste goals alone are not enough

It is a treat to experience two of our nation’s experts (Pat and Jerry) on Bottle Bills discussing the topic on GreenYes.   This is an example of why this list is worth reading!!


Maybe it would be helpful to jump in here and share with everyone how GRRN defines a ZW Community … it is one that has achieved 90% recovery rates, not 100%.  The reasoning here is that if a community actually achieves such an amazing level then in fact they have put their community on the Path to Zero Waste, and that is the true goal here… to do the best we can by considering the elimination of waste in every public and private decision we make.


I support Jerry here in seeing the Oregon BB actions as an important step forward for all of us.   In fact, we all need to start talking about how to educate the Obama EPA on this very topic and get them on the Path to Zero … using the Oregon case study as a teaching tool.  Of course, no program is perfect, as this one is not … but the power of it is that it is happening NOW, thus making it media worthy and an opportunity for all of us to come together and form a stronger voice.


I also want to support Jerry’s concern about having “ZW goals without strategies to implement”.    It is a victory for the ZW Movement for me to say that we are today in the transition zone where in many ways we have won the politics and the vision-thing, and now it’s time to deliver.   Of course, in many areas of the nation that are not on the West Coast this statement is not true… but in many places in the USA and in the EU, we have won the philosophical debate, and now it’s time to create on-the-ground strategies.   I have personally experienced this when I am asked to travel somewhere and speak and I launch into one of my many versions of “ZW Is The Right Way” speeches, and the client/audience says “we got it, so now what do we do?”    Yahoo and congratulations to us all !!!


Now the next level of work begins … how does a community get to 50%?  Then 70%  Then 80% And then 90%?   We need to map out the journey with a clear public policy agenda with a timeline (10 years?), a financial price tag and a political price tag.        And we need to say what happens to the remaining residue.  I am currently a proponent of the German approach of “landfilling bio-stabilized residue” as the cheapest and most flexible approach, and also serves to defeat any talk of building a local incinerator, which is neither cheap nor flexible!    What the Germans now require is that any mixed waste with a biodegradable fraction in it must be stabilized before burial.  In practice, this means putting the material through an Anaerobic Digestor (AD) or a mixed waste composting process (open windrows) before burial.


Finally, I want to say that Pat Franklin knows more about Bottle Bills than most of us ever will (except maybe Jerry), and she has done more to promote them than anyone I know.  Now is the time to join forces and invite the Obama EPA to our party … so let’s see how we can build a bridge for them to come across and join us.




Eric Lombardi

GRRN President


"We don't have a waste problem, we have a resource opportunity."


From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf Of Jerry Powell
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2008 9:12 AM
To: greenyes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] Zero waste goals alone are not enough


Pat Franklin's recent posting both compliments and condemns the Oregon Bottle Bill Task Force for its recommendations.  As a Governor's appointee to that body, I suggest that Pat reconsider her criticism that the recommended 80 percent redemption rate in the Task Force's final report to the 2009 legislature doesn't represent zero waste for beverage containers.  Pat needs to do a little research before making such comments.


Too many zero waste advocates see a governmetally-adopted 100-percent no-waste goal as a major achievement.  In many cases, it is not.  I've seen way too many communities adopt such a zero waste goal, and then do absolutely nothing to try to acheive it.  Yet, in many of those communties, zero-waste advocates claim victory, when in fact, they are getting snookered.  Goals without programs are merely words.


In Oregon, we aim to raise the mandated redemption rate in steps towards zero beverage waste.  The plan is to attain the 80 percent goal, then raise it to 90 percent and require that this level be attained.  We'll then move it higher again.  That is a politically viable way of not getting snookered and to realistically attain zero waste.  In other words, we have a well-defined strategy to attain the goal, and not just have the goal by itself. 


I'd also encourage folks to read the Task Force's final report in which the beverage industry and grocers have agreed to fully fumd and manage the recovery system, at no cost to the consumer or taxpayer.  In other words, true product stewardship.  


Jerry Powell
Resource Recycling


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