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Re: [greenyes] Waste-to-Energy

Hi Sharon,

Let me suggest that you refine your question. In Europe, the trend is
toward phasing out any landfilling that doesn't first "pretreat" the waste
through various systems they are calling MBT (mechanical, biological
treatment). The MBT approach is intended to occur AFTER a good
source-separation program has gotten the majority of the recyclables and
organics out of the stream. The goal then is to (1) recover any recyclable
materials still in there, and (2) to "process" the organic fraction, mostly
through anaerobic digestion, to dramatically reduce the landfilling gassing
problem. While this approach of "pre-treatment" before landfilling is
pretty new, I like what I see and would venture to bet it's the beginning of
a trend. Thus, if you were to compare Landfilling With Pretreatment to WTE,
then I would clearly support the landfill option. In fact, I am currently
writing a paper called "Closing The Dumps, Creating New Jobs" where I lay
out plans for how our Global South friends can start the challenge of
closing their open, unlined urban dumps, yet still create and protect local
jobs through a Maximum Diversion/Small Landfill approach. The two keys are
(1) source-separation of the wet waste from the dry, and (2) a pre-treatment
phase for all the discard stream residuals that weren't separated properly
before they are landfilled.

If others have views on landfill pretreatment, I'd love to hear em.

Eric Lombardi
Boulder, CO

----- Original Message -----
From: <Sharon_Gates@no.address>
To: <greenyes@no.address>
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2004 11:39 AM
Subject: RE: [greenyes] Waste-to-Energy

> Dear GreenYes-
> I hesitate to raise this issue, but here goes. The City I serve sends its
> refuse to a waste-to-energy plant. I'm conflicted about the relative
> environmental impacts of landfilling vs. WTE. It is my understanding that
> our WTE plant meets Air Quality Management District standards. Obviously,
> the AQMD does not regulate everything, and you only know about the
> emissions that you test for. WTE has more immediate impacts from what is
> coming out of the stacks, as compared to the more long-term (and
> uncertain) groundwater and other impacts from landfilling. But is it
> possible to truly label one of these as the lesser of two evils? Is one
> really lesser?
> I am personally fully committed to zero waste. However, the City that I
> serve continues to generate "waste" and this is an issue I have to deal
> with on a daily basis.
> When you respond to this post, please do so gently. I am not responsible
> for my City's policies, for WTE in general, or for much else in this
> world. Please do not offer suggestions as to how to get rid of our WTE
> plant. I'm really looking narrowly at the lesser-of-two-evils question.
> Sharon Gates
> Recycling Specialist
> City of Long Beach, California
> 562/570-4694

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