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[GreenYes] Re: Waste volumes

Title: [GreenYes] Re: Waste volumes

Yes, scavengers usually do deliver a premium product, but unless they
are set up as part of a controlled system like Urban Ore's transfer
station pickers, they can also be responsible for some serious
environmental damage and the degradation of discard management
programs. The previous record high prices for ferrous and non-ferrous
scrap pushed less responsible scavengers to pull brass valves off of
toxic chemical tanks, cut catalytic converters of functioning vehicles
and rip Freon containing cooling lines off of refrigerators and air
conditioners. Bottle and can poachers disrupt and frustrate citizens
efforts to sort their discards, in some cases to the point of
abandoning there separation efforts. Loss of bottle and can revenue
typically drives up the cost and lowers the efficiency of the
authorized collection programs, which strive for reasonable costs and
responsible handling of all discards, including the least valuable
which the poachers are not at all interested in. While I am in support
of providing work and reasonable living standards for all, employing
scavengers to poach valuable discards from legitimate programs is
parasitic and counterproductive to the goals of waste reduction and
discard management. Even if the poachers were formally incorporated
into the waste discard system, they too would eventually be poached by
those still outside the system unless anti-poaching laws were
established and enforced. Let's keep the big picture in mind, we need
to reduce all discards and handle all of them responsibly. Poachers
and scavengers do neither.

Bob Besso
Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager
Norcal Waste Systems Inc. San Francisco

On Oct 30, 9:41 pm, "Nancy Poh" <greenbeingna...@no.address> wrote:
> This post is so insightful.  I was thinking as I read that the
> economic crisis should reduce discards since people will be buying as
> much.  But it is worrisome to think that to avoid paying handling
> fees, they may be discarded indiscriminately .
> Now that we know from Dan that scavengers deliver superior product
> through source-separation to the buyback's specs, wouldn't it be a
> good idea to engage them into the recycling industry?  Then instead of
> stealing they will be making an honest living.
> Since we are talking about reducing discards and waste, why must
> tomato sauce bottle be made that way?  Since we have been reading that
> chemicals from plastic in food packaging materials can leach into food
> wouldn't it be a good idea to use uniform glass containers, with wider
> openings, to store food product.  That way it will reduce discards and
> raw material will not be wasted since glass containers can be re-used.
> Watching TV about the hidden dangers of volcanoes in Yellowstone Park
> erupting, I do wonder why it is not possible to use the lava and the
> latent heat from this source in processes.  If we can pump oil to a
> level of depletion we can do the same for lava, right?  Can it be used
> in recycling processes?
> Yeah, I know.  Sometimes I do ask the funniest if not the most stupid
> questions.  I don't care.  Just think about it, anyone?
> Happy Halloween.
> Nancy
> On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 4:51 AM, Dan Knapp <dr....@no.address> wrote:
> > Hello Wayne:
> > Thanks for the clarification; I had no idea that the counties you were
> > talking about were in North Carolina, and I didn't know until Dan De
> > Grassi's posting that California has only 58 counties.
> > There's nothing wrong with "trying to prove" that the economy has a bigger
> > effect than population growth on the discard supply.  In science it's called
> > a working hypothesis, which the data can then either prove or disprove,
> > confirm or not.  In your case I take it the predicted relationship was not
> > supported by the data.  That's OK too; grist for the mill.  We go on from
> > there.  Your conclusions actually help me in discussions about counting
> > methodologies that are ongoing here.
> > Conceptually, and speaking as a person immersed through my business in the
> > hurlyburly of resource trading and competitive disposal service pricing, I
> > always use the word disposal in it's larger sense to denote reuse,
> > recycling, and composting as well as wasting either by landfilling or by
> > burning.  All are forms of disposal, and all compete both for the discard
> > supply and for disposal service fees.  Waste isn't waste until it's wasted.
> >  Prior to that, discards are resources.  Poor handling practices turn
> > resources into wastes, which by definition have less than no value.
> > Since you raised the scavenging issue, I'd like to comment.  First of all,
> > my company, Urban Ore, puts three well-paid professional scavengers on the
> > floor of our refuse transfer station every day it is open, governed by a
> > contract with the City of Berkeley, which was just renewed yesterday.  We've
> > done this for 28 years.  I started the company as a scavenger at the
> > landfill.  Our payroll is now about $1.4 million a year, and the lowest-paid
> > worker makes about $12 per hour.  Scavenging supplies a declining
> > percentage, currently about 10%, of our supply.  The rest comes through
> > dropoff and buyback activities at our site.
> > I'm not in the can and bottle business, but I take my source separated
> > materials to a dropoff site next to a refuse transfer station rather than
> > put it out commingled at the curb for my local publicly traded garbage
> > company to pick up.  I don't like commingling the way they do it.  Anyway,
> > the dropoff site I frequent also features a buyback.  Every day I go there,
> > about once a week, a few dozen itinerant scavengers are there with me
> > sorting their loads to make a few bucks.  Sometimes I give my loads to them,
> > invariably in exchange for a heartfelt blessing.  Our city has a curbside
> > program run by a different company; they park their trucks on the same site
> > within a hundred feet of all this scavenger sorting.  I go regularly to zero
> > waste commission meetings, and listen as program managers for the two
> > companies talk about the "problem" of scavenging.  I agree it's a problem,
> > but as a sociologist I would only say it is structural, and fully sanctioned
> > by contractual agreements of long standing.  Anytime you have a buyback and
> > a curbside program in the same town, itinerant scavengers are going to try
> > to cherrypick the goodies out of the curbside bins.  The police won't
> > enforce private property rights for bins left unattended out on the street,
> > so the problem goes on.   I would argue that the scavengers deliver a
> > superior product, already source-separated to the buyback's specs, so there
> > is no recycling reason for stopping the practice.  It's just a matter of
> > service pricing.  The curbside program should be regarded as the "baseline
> > alternative", to use an old solid waste concept.  Or call it the default
> > resource collection program, pay the curbside operator accordingly,  and
> > work the scavengers into the picture by concentrating city services for the
> > homeless at or near the buyback, where these folks collect and do their
> > thing everyday it is open.
> > Thanks for giving me the chance to say this, Wayne.
> > Dan Knapp, Ph.D. and CEO
> > Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling business in Berkeley, California
> > since 1980
> > On Oct 30, 2008, at 6:10 AM, Wayne Turner wrote:
> > Dan et al,
> > I think it's safe to say here in NC where I work and play that your first
> > statement is true.  Sorry for not mentioning where I was.~
> > As I was doing my analysis of the data it occurred to me that something was
> > slightly inconsistent with gross retail sales  - doesn't include service
> > related data - and that a more accurate indicator for the economic side
> > would be gross county product.  North Carolina does not compute gross county
> > product, only gross domestic product at the state level.  Be that as it may,
> > it's still interesting that gross retail sales and population are both very
> > strong indicators of waste trends and vice versa.  I have to admit, my
> > initial reason for studying this data was to attempt to prove that the
> > economy had a stronger impact on waste generation and disposal than
> > population.  That simply isn't the case, so far.  Here in NC our waste
> > reduction goals are measured in waste disposal per capita so that's why I
> > was going down that road.  I was thinking tons disposed per $1,000 gross
> > retail sales might be a better metric to measure the success of our
> > recycling and other diversion programs.  I did not analyze the volume and
> > velocity issue in detail but by comparing the graphs of the two data series
> > I did see seasons where it appeared the waste data lagged the sales data by
> > a month or two.  (holidays, vacations?)
> > Private landfills and transfer station competition notwhithstanding, our MSW
> > tonnages have remained fairly level too until this past FY when they began
> > showing declines.  Was this a harbinger of the slowdown in the economy?
> > Maybe landfill disposal data is our new economic crystal ball.
> > I think the fact that our residential compost/yard waste program still
> > continues to thrive is because it's a free (general fund/property tax based)
> > program with no user fee attached.  The residential sector is the primary
> > contributor to our yard waste tonnages, on the order of 95+% of the total.
> > In a sour economy, everyone will continue to use free services I suppose.
> > On the other hand, the small business person or resident who no longer wants
> > to pay a tip fee or flat rate to dispose of waste at the landfill - and save
> > gas - may illegally dump waste.  I agree with a compost facility in every
> > county and even with a fee imposed.  I'm a believer in paying for what you
> > get but when the economy goes to hell in a handbasket, our behaviors change
> > just as dramatically.  Anyone want to bring in the scavenging issue now?
> > In response to David's inquiry, we track generation and disposal data for
> > the county every year.  Generation has increased every year here in the
> > county for the past 10 years.  Disposal has also increased but not quite at
> > the same rate while diversion seems increase only minutely.  So the net
> > result is more LF disposed.
> > Wayne
> >>>> Dan Knapp <dr....@no.address> 10/29/2008 3:30 PM >>>
> > Hello Wayne:
> > Would it be correct to say that for 100 counties in California over the last
> > decade, solid waste tonnages, population, and gross retail sales tend to
> > stay in sync with each other?  Put another way, for most communities, when
> > population and retail sales go up or down together, do solid waste tonnages
> > go up or down more or less with the same volume and velocity?
> > This would be interesting to know, because in our part of California, the
> > San Francisco Bay Area, waste tonnages for most counties have remained more
> > or less stable for the last thirteen years, since 1995.  San Mateo's
> > landfilling decreased .3%; Santa Clara County had no net change.  San
> > Francisco and Alameda County volumes have increased .1% and .5%,
> > respectively.  Meanwhile, throughout our area both population and retail
> > sales have increased, I believe.
> > Your experience suggests compost facilities may turn out to be more or less
> > "recession proof".   This makes sense, because plants just keep growing and
> > dying without much regard for the vicissitudes of the "real economy".
> >  That's a good argument for having compost facilities in every community
> > instead of concentrated on agricultural lands.  The tip fees and product
> > sales from compost disposal can then act as a stabilizing force within the
> > local economy.
> > Dan Knapp
> > Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling company in Berkeley, California since
> > 1980
> > On Oct 29, 2008, at 7:51 AM, Wayne Turner wrote:
> > Good point
> ...
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