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[GreenYes] Zero Waste
In reply to Siobhan Dowling's recent queries about Zero Waste councils, and the
following recent posting to the list:

Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 01:05:33 -0000
Subject: [GreenYes] Zerowaste areas exporting waste ?
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Hi, I am re-posting this as I think I didn't head it very cleverly ! 
(I don't think any Zerowaste councils will be rushing to tell me that 
they are exporting waste........!!!) "Oh the naievity of these 
greenhorn environmentalists !" 
So here goes again - I am hoping for more feedback...
I believe there is a zerowaste website but the URL escapes me, maybe someone
else on the list knows it or a trawl thru the archives will produce it.  This
might be a source of useful information.

I don't think it is an issue of zero waste councils not wanting to admit they
are exporting waste - it is a plain and simple fact of life for many who may not
have complete control over where the waste ends up and not necessarily because
they want it leaving the region.  

The State of Minnesota isn't specifically calling itself a zero waste state, but
its solid waste initiatives have many similarities to zero waste priorities. 
It's true that many states and local governments have a problem with waste
leaving their borders.  This isn't necessarily because they want it to, in fact
in many cases they certainly do _not_ want it to.  In the US context efforts to
adhere to the spirit of the proximity principle are hindered by major court
decisions.  It isn't as though the state or local government itself is exporting
the waste - it is a question of contractors (waste haulers) having the
legally-protected option of sending it to landfill somewhere cheaper, as opposed
to energy recovery facilities or MSW composting facilities etc.  There are some
ways to try to encourage waste to stay within the boundaries of the local system
but it isn't always easy to ensure that it happens across the board.  I know
that Minnesota for example has a policy of trying to promote integrated waste
management and the waste hierarchy, eg reduction, reuse, recycling, composting
and energy recovery over landfill etc.  I am sure there are other examples.

>From what I have seen there is no effort to cover up the fact that in spite of
advocating a zero-waste or similar approach some waste ends up being exported
instead of managed locally.  I have on the other hand seen a lot of serious and
open discussion of what to do to address the problem which unfortunately is an
on-going one.  

As you have pointed out in other postings to the list, political will is
important since economics appear to drive the issue as much as anything in many
cases.  To cite a local example, most of the North London Waste Authority's
waste is disposed of at landfill in Bedfordshire.

Caroline Truth Brimblecombe
Waste Minimisation Officer
London Borough of Islington
51 Hanley Road
London N4 3TH
020 7527 4744
020 7527 4642

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