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[GreenYes] Re: Recycling to be mandatory? Compromise bill may bevoted on soon in House

At 03:28 PM 7/19/2007 -0700, Dan Knapp wrote:
As a reuse and recycling operator, I'd like to comment:

I agree with Helen that information is important, but information can't carry the recycling ball to the goal line. Somebody's actually got to be out there doing the work of competing for these refined resources, taking responsibility for disposing of them legally and properly as resources, not wastes. Otherwise all is for naught.

OK, first, with reference to the title line:  Neither this or competing bills passed in Delaware.  We didn't particularly support any of them--they were crappy bills--but the real reason is that the wasters in Delaware--represented by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority--are smart and better organized and politically effective.  They are really good at pretending to promote "recycling" while actually keeping it to token levels.

Lots of people in Delaware's enviro and regulatory establishments feel more recycling is needed.  But somehow they just can't bring themselves to recognize reality, tell the truth, and get beyond pathetic attempts to cut deals with the wasters....  Frustrating to us, and maybe not that different from what' described below??

Alan Muller
Green Delaware

I saw that quite vividly in Canberra in April of this year. Here in Canberra is a government entity, ACT NoWaste, that for 11 years ostensibly operated under the goal and banner and public relations campaign of No Waste by 2010, only to fail to build the resource recovery park that Revolve, the ACT's contracted landfill scavenger company gave them in a plausible plan on a silver platter in about 1992. These Revolve people, many quite well-educated, were walking around daily on Canberra's discards, and they knew how unscrambling them and marketing them should be handled because they were in constant communication with the actualities of the rapidly differentiating disposal system at that time. So their plan would have worked, had it been implemented.

ACT NoWaste said it would champion the idea of a zero waste facility to replace the landfill, and it even went so far as to hire a couple of engineering companies to draw up a more finished version of the Resource Recovery Park that Revolve had recommended. I worked on the last iteration of that RRP plan during trips there as guest of ACT in 1995 and 1996. I thought they were sure to build the RRP after my last visit there in 1996. They had the site, the operators, the plan, and the money to build it. I couldn't think of anywhere else that combined all those elements.

Unfortunately, that's as far as it went. The zero waste reuse, recycling, and composting complex never went beyond the idea phase because the waste managers staged a comeback and took over.

The result 11 years later: the government-owned and privately-operated landfill operator has already filled a substantial portion of the upland valley Mugga landfill started in, and very soon the landfill will spill out into the broader valley below. Aerial photos in my computer show a collection pond below the whole projected 4 cell complex, and the collection pond drains into a small creek running through a seasonal wetland. And all this quite willful and unnecessary pollution in a region that gets less than ten inches of rain a year, where every drop of water is far more precious than in places more generously endowed with wet weather.

Now the weed-infested never-bullt Resource Recovery Park site sits below the massive bowl being scooped out of an upland meadow at a public cost of millions. Now the ACT NoWaste people rig up winner-take-all schemes that pit one recycler against another and seed conflict, not cooperation, among the resource competition. Now the ACT NoWaste people say the compost operator can't charge a tipping fee. Only the landfill gets to charge tipping fees; this is directly contrary to effective recycling practices elsewhere. Now the ACT NoWaste has hooked its profit-oriented solid waste burial scheme to the ACT government's finances in such a way as to make ACT dependent on wasting for its revenues, and complicit in ACT's business interference against wasting's competition.

Meanwhile, above the big new plastic-lined garbage bowl is the next new cell of the landfill that NoWaste has already scheduled in a publicly guaranteed expansion of waste capacity, cell upon cell, said to extend to 2050 at least.

Two years ago, ACT NoWaste did quietly drop the "by 2010" part of the goal, but it was still printed on their trucks in April 2007.

They did put money into advertising and public information promoting recycling and even reuse, and it never occurred to them to change their name to something more appropriate, like MAXWaste by 2010, but they've surely acted as though that was their goal.

So far they have succeeded. And they've used knowledge, false knowledge, all along as a screen.

The unbuilt infrastructure, including the entrepreneurial network of reuse and recycling disposal businesses, is the missing element in the Canberra infrastructure, in my opinion, and so I differ with Helen on this point. It's the same everywhere, including Berkeley, so far as I can determine. All too much of our current mrf infrastructure produces inferior resources because of collection "efficiencies" that create contamination and resource downgrading.

Dan Knapp
Urban Ore, Inc.
A reuse and recycling company in Berkeley, California since 1980

On Jul 17, 2007, at 12:54 PM, Helen Spiegelman wrote:

Interesting observations, Pete.

My conclusion is that it is inconsistent to ban disposal without, at the same time, mandating recycling. And also these measures have no effect without enforcement.

The missing element, I found in a survey of disposal bans in British Columbia a couple years ago, is PUBLIC INFORMATION. Most of the rules exist on the books only, but do not become part of the community culture because the public doesn't know about them.

Our regional government is expanding and stepping up enforcement of bans - and committing resources to public information about the programs. Here we have a lot to learn from the state of California, which is really good at catchy TV ads. Darryl Young showed audiences in Australia some great ads promoting the CA bottle bill. It has to be really catchy and at the same time preachy: like anti-smoking campaigns?


At 08:14 AM 7/17/2007, Pete Pasterz wrote:

I don't agree that bans and collection mandates necessarily lead to the same in North Carolina, we have several banned items, but voluntary provision of recycling services by local communities, and voluntary citizen participation. Those municipalities that don't provide service, or that provide inferior programs have a majority of the banned items still going to landfill. Even in Mecklenburg County, which has [had] been an early leader in recycling and education programs, more materials, including banned ones like aluminum cans, go to the landfill than the MRF. If there were some [any] enforcement of the bans, this may have the desired effect of directing the materials to a recycling stream...or to a roadside dump, depending on the incentives given to the generators.

So, the combination of bans and voluntary programs is not optimizing recycling here. I'm not sure that mandates would necessarily change this, without also a framework for a better focus on economic and intrinsic incentives to generators. The financial incentives don't necessarily need to be PAYT-type rewards/penalties, or RecycleBank coupons; they could also be product/packaging costs which reflect their impacts...

Pete Pasterz
Cabarrus County, NC

From: GreenYes@no.address [ mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf Of Helen Spiegelman
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2007 6:40 PM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] Re: Recycling to be mandatory? Compromise bill may bevoted on soon in House
Importance: Low

I am interested in the dualism of "mandatory recycling" and "disposal bans" which lead to the same outcome. Does anyone have experience that compares the effectiveness of the two approaches?

Helen Spiegelman

At 08:52 AM 6/21/2007, Reindl, John wrote:
This is great news ! Wisconsin has had mandatory recycling in place since the early 1990's and, while not perfect, it has worked very well. Without mandatory recycling, I doubt that we would have the economies of scale for either collection, processing, or marketing.

Best wishes,

John Reindl
Dane County, WI
-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [ mailto:GreenYes@no.address]On Behalf Of RicAnthony@no.address
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:17 AM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] Recycling to be mandatory? Compromise bill may be voted on soon in House

Published: Jun 19, 2007 - 11:19:49 pm EDT
Recycling to be mandatory? Compromise bill may be voted on soon in House
By Drew Volturo, Delaware State News

DOVER -- Lawmakers pushing two separate curbside residential recycling bills have reached a compromise on legislation that would be mandatory and charge a $3 per ton assessment on solid waste.
The measure, a combination of two bills that had their supporters and detractors, was being shopped around Legislative Hall Tuesday and could find its way to the House of Representatives floor for a vote soon.
"We have been doing voluntary recycling for several years and can't get much above 15 percent (participation among residents)," said Rep. Pamela S. Maier, R-Newark, who is sponsoring the compromise legislation.
"I don't want folks to be afraid of the word 'mandatory,' which always raises red flags."
Rep. Maier originally sponsored a bill that would mandate curbside residential recycling, while Gov. Ruth Ann Minner backed legislation calling for voluntary recycling and setting up a $3 per ton assessment.
The compromise measure incorporates many of the tenets of the Minner-backed legislation, including the assessment, which would create a fund to help with startup costs associated with recycling programs, and the establishment of recycling goals.
Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control John A. Hughes said his department could live with the mandatory recycling bill, but he prefers the original voluntary measure because it would be more palatable to legislators and residents.
"We agree with getting recycling started, planting the seeds," Mr. Hughes said.
"We will reach the point when the majority of people see how well recycling functions and the costs are balanced out by large-scale participation."
Then, Mr. Hughes said, adopting a mandatory system would be less controversial.
He noted that his hometown of Rehoboth Beach has implemented voluntary curbside recycling through Delaware Solid Waste Authority and many of his neighbors already have signed up for the program.
Mr. Hughes said he is concerned that mandatory recycling might not pass, and the voluntary proposal might end up on the cutting room floor as well.
Clean Air Council community outreach director James Black said he would have preferred a mandatory recycling bill without the assessment, which is estimated to cost the average household 38 cents a month.
"Mandatory recycling is not as much of a problem as it used to be because people realize to reach the goals we set, it has to be mandatory," Mr. Black said.
"It's better to have a compromise bill now because every year we wait, the trash in the landfills is going to pile that much higher."
But Delaware Solid Waste Authority CEO Pasquale "Pat" Canzano said not establishing the assessment while requiring recycling creates an unfunded mandate, which often is difficult to meet.
"(The bill) provides the ability for public and private entities to apply for grants for recycling programs, which should increase the amount of recycling," Mr. Canzano said.
Under the legislation, a recycling fund would be established and financed by a $3 per ton assessment on all solid waste -- excluding recyclables -- collected and/or disposed of in Delaware.
That money, Deputy DNREC Secretary David Small said, would be available to private companies, municipalities and community organizations as startup funds for recycling programs and could be used to purchase equipment, such as a truck or recycling containers.
Once a local government reaches a recycling rate of 30 percent, it would not be assessed the $3 a ton surcharge.
"At some point, around 30-40 percent recycling, towns would be saving enough in tipping and disposal fees to cover recycling costs," Mr. Small said.
But how would the mandatory component of the legislation be enforced?
Rep. Robert J. Valihura Jr., R-Wilmington, a sponsor of the original voluntary recycling bill and co-sponsor of the compromise measure, said there are mechanisms in place to ensure the program's success.
Refuse brought to a landfill already is inspected for contraband, asbestos and other contaminants. If trash haulers start bringing in refuse with too many recyclables, the landfills would reject the loads and could fine the haulers, Rep. Valihura said.
DSWA and DNREC, he said, would develop the exact process.
The measure carries the goal of increasing Delaware's recycling from 15 percent to 30 percent recycling by 2010 and 51 percent by 2015.
Post your opinions in the Public Issues Forum at
Staff writer Drew Volturo can be reached at 741-8296 or dvolturo@no.address.

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