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Re: [greenyes] Waste-to-Energy

Eric, Sharon,
As a strong supporter of per-treatment for over 20 years, I like to make the
comparison to the Clean Water Act that doesn't allow our communities to
discharge untreated sewage into our water ways -- So I support a 'Clean Land
Act' that doesn't allow the disposal of untreated wastes onto our land.

Once all of the organics have been 'pre-treated' [read 'composted'], then
there is no need to dispose of them, and landfilling of wastes that cause
leachate and methane is virtually eliminated.

Generally, the resolution to the argument has been based on short-term
costs - in most areas we can stick the garbage into the ground (today) at a
lower cost than diverting it - just the same way as manufacturers do not
have to internalize the costs of disposal of their products.

California adopted a requirement that communities had to divert 50% of their
generated wastes at whatever it cost to achieve that mandate - not just
divert to the tons that cost less than landfilling.

So if we eliminate the discussion as to what the cheapest alternative may
be, and focus back on the value of resources, and protecting our land and
water, it is a clear descision - do not discharge to land items that may
create leachate and foul our groundwater, do not discharge materials that
will decompose and generate methane. Reprocess these materials!

Richard Gertman
Environmental Planning Consultants
1885 The Alameda, Suite 120
San Jose, CA 95126-1732
----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Lombardi" <eric@no.address>
To: <greenyes@no.address>; <Sharon_Gates@no.address>
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2004 12:28 PM
Subject: 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
> materials still in there, and (2) to "process" the organic fraction,
> through anaerobic digestion, to dramatically reduce the landfilling
> 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
> a trend. Thus, if you were to compare Landfilling With Pretreatment to
> 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
> jobs through a Maximum Diversion/Small Landfill approach. The two keys
> (1) source-separation of the wet waste from the dry, and (2) a
> 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
> Eco-Cycle
> 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
> > refuse to a waste-to-energy plant. I'm conflicted about the relative
> > environmental impacts of landfilling vs. WTE. It is my understanding
> > our WTE plant meets Air Quality Management District standards.
> > the AQMD does not regulate everything, and you only know about the
> > emissions that you test for. WTE has more immediate impacts from what
> > 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
> > 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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