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[GreenYes] Zero Waste and Views of Others

Bruce,Jr E Arkwright asks and notes:

"What is this?  John Trotti [editor of MSW Management] is a deranged
confused person.  And what is comparing doctors and closing hospitals has to
do with anything?  Nice try at reteric I think scare tactic anyway.  The
real illness is waste and how to deal with it.  And Johnny boy is worried
about taking his waste away and his JOB away.  Not that we have enough waste
to spread around to everyone who would want it as it is.  John you need to
grow up!  And stop your sad republican reteric."

Bruce, I think that you may be unfairly -- and counterproductively --
cutting John Trotti short in your opinion.

Clearly, those with constituencies that include operators of landfills will
have a different focus and different boundaries on how far that they can go.
I don't mean to sugar coat that fact.

But, any effort to make zero waste concepts something more than a gleam in
your eye and a part of the dominant culture ultimately have to reach beyond
a small cadre of dedicated recyclers.  To do that requires keen insight
where the real "fault lines" of fundamental long term interests truly lie,
especially when distortions in the marketplace from virgin and waste
subsidies make wasting appear to be more profitable than conserving.

So, yes it is true that, at first blush, it may seem to you that all
landfill owners are the "dark side," but, on closer examination, I believe
that a very different breakdown of interests can be discerned.

As for the large vertically integrated waste giants, they do depend upon a
continuation of increasing volumes to their high margin landfills in order
to acquire market power and outsized profits that their investors demand.
That is why Wall Street analysts that finance the waste industry like Morgan
Stanley have this to say about recycling:

"For nearly a decade, recycling has decimated aggregate volume growth in the
traditional waste management business ... [R]ecycling has long been the
enemy of the solid waste industry, stealing volumes otherwise headed for
landfills ...  [R]ecycling has reached a saturation point in the U.S. and
should therefore not be nearly as large a threat to solid-waste companies
going forward as it has been over the past decade. ... [L]ess recycling
should lead to accelerating disposal volumes, which in turn should lead to
pricing leverage for landfill operators."

But, a third of the landfill owners are counties and municipalities.
Although their jobs do revolve around managing their waste assets, they do
not operate on the same organizational principles as the waste

A movement to reduce waste, especially the next major step to eliminate
landfilling of the organic fraction which is 60% of what currently is
landfilled, would do the following.

    First, it would extend the life of their existing landfills. Because
NIMBY concerns make it next to impossible for a public body, which is
limited in the incentive payments and constrained more by the political
process, to site new landfills, this is a very important fact to them.

    Second, by elimininating the difficult (or impossible) to manage
decomposable fraction from the incoming waste that produces methane and
hazardous leachate, it makes their task easier, and it reduces the prospect
of their facility ultimately becoming a Superfund site in the future.

    But, we're not going to open dialog with this possible ally by attacking
them for not being sufficiently dedicated to zero waste.  That will only
convince the public operators that they should continue to ally themselves
with the private landfill owners instead of with ourselves. Rather, our
opportunities will arise by looking for the positive in what they say and
do, rather than the negative.

    In that regard, if you examine the totality of what they have said, both
John Trotti and SWANA Executive Director, John Skinner, have shown
themselves to be willing to seriously consider the range of issues with
sensitivity to the inherent problems with landfilling and the possibilities
of greater diversion efforts.

    My strong belief is that we will advance our cause far better by
nurturing these positive currents that will begin to move them away from the
waste giants and towards recyclers, than by giving vent to frustrations that
they are not yet died in the blue converts.  They are both decent and
responsible individuals from whom a constructive dialog can be engendered if
we give them but half the chance.


Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI5705-4964
(608) 231-1100
Fax (608) 233-0011

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