Hi there, Greenyes list ~
Eric is absolutely correct that citizens need to line up to speak to
the Frederick County Commission and demand that the County cease
collecting "mixed waste" and burning and burying it. Mixed
waste collection made sense a century ago when most (75% in studies from
that period) municipal waste was ashes from coal furnaces. Today's waste
is different and absolutely requires much more careful handling. Not only
are there hazardous substances embedded in the products we buy and
discard, but the highly engineered and refined materials in waste contain
much more "embodied energy" (the energy required to replace
them) than what they would generate in a so-called "waste to
energy" incinerator. Communities that use waste incinertors are
burning the furniture to heat the house.
Our metropolitan region is facing exactly the same dilemma as
Frederick County. We have rising waste volumes (46% compounded increase
in past 7 years) and imminent expiry of an existing landfill.
However our elected officials response was to take an action not
suggested by their professional staff: on their own initiative they
issued a "Zero Waste Challenge" to the citizens and
municipalities in the region.
They backed this up by instructing staff to:
- prepare a bylaw raising the fee for disposal in comparison to the fee
for source separated yard waste;
- prepare a bylaw banning disposal of recyclable materials and providing
resources to enforce it;
- get serious about finding a way to compost the food-waste that
comprises 40% of our waste, reduces the efficiency of our
state-of-the-art incinerator and emits the GHG methane in our landfills
(only 20% of which is captured by our state-of-the-art methane capture
The staff have been busy. Our region will soon begin a pilot of a
food-waste composting system being successfully used by Seattle. Citizens
have formed a committee called Zero Waste Vancouver, which will be
organizing a citizens' delegation to Seattle to inspect how the
food-waste collection program works on the ground: what is it like to
separate your yucky food waste from the garbage? Are people having
trouble getting use to this? We will be videotaping people's comments and
kitchens, and bringing their stories back to share with our citizens. We
will be happy to share our findings with citizens' groups in other
communities, such as Frederick County, to show their elected officials
and fellow citizens.
It is time for citizens to speak up, as they did a century ago, and
demand that their elected officials put in place programs that will solve
the problems of today, which are excess consumption and climate
At 02:52 PM 9/27/2007, Eric Lombardi wrote:
The following quote (from the
article below) sums up our challenge if we are to win the day. There are
some very smart and ecologically-minded Solid Waste managers in America
who need to understand why Zero Waste is practical ... otherwise, they will
be moving increasingly toward mixed-garbage-to-energy projects because it
does offer them the answers they need to keep their jobs.
"There is no way to get
to 100 percent recycling or the zero waste strategy that's been
proposed," Marschner said. "Somebody's got to put a realistic
tone on this discussion."
He also goes on to say that they have a landfill capacity problem
developing. So, I would suggest that a "realistic tone" in this case
would be to show him how a Resource Recovery Park, or, as Eco-Cycle calls
it, a Zero Waste Park, with all of the "big six" ZW facilities (MRF,
Composting, CHaRM (Hard-To-Recycle), Reuse/Repair, C&D, and a Residue
Facility (trash transfer station) would result in the recovery of at
least 70% of their discards (could go higher), and thus double or triple
the life of their existing landfill. The "creative collection" system
needed to support this ZW Park would be a mandated 3-can collection
program for all households and businesses (ala San Francisco). Of course,
the PAYT rates, public education and public procurement practices are
supporting activities that make the Zero Waste Option not only
"realistic", but also cleaner, more economic, and sustainable for the
long-term. I do believe the 70% recovery rate is doable today and not an
"oversell" (remember, we need to be realistic in their eyes and in
reality!!), and that with time it could grow to 90% recovery. By that
time, our discussion around the remaining 10% can hardly even be imagined
Unless we get professionals like Marschner to understand that they must
leave the "mixed garbage can" behind ... it is the past ... the future
REQUIRES source separation, then they keep throwing the economics of bury
vs burn vs recovery in our faces. As soon as everyone realizes that
source separation makes bury/burn economically OBSOLETE and totally
non-competitive, we aren't going to win the day. The real problem is
MIXED TRASH, and once we get that outlawed, the market will take care of
much of our fight. Then we can focus on the next big problem... getting
toxic materials OUT of our material stream, homes and workplaces.
The future of waste in
discuss ways to deal with growing trash
Originally published September 27, 2007
By Meg Bernhardt
Photo by Staff file photo by Skip
Michael Marschner, director of the county's Utilities and Solid Waste
Management Division, is preparing a strategy to be considered by
commissioners next month on how to deal with solid waste disposal in the
next 35 years.
The Frederick County Commissioners will begin
developing a strategy next month to guide solid waste disposal policy for
the next 35 years.
Their decisions will likely shape whether
they opt to build the proposed incinerator designed to burn trash and
generate electricity from the heat created.
The commissioners will look at bids on
building such a plant at the end of October. Before they can evaluate the
bids, they must make overall strategy decisions to accommodate increasing
amounts of trash as landfill space declines, said Michael Marschner, the
director of the county's Utilities and Solid Waste Management Division.
Incineration, or waste-to-energy as Marschner
calls it, has been opposed by some who say it can be environmentally
harmful and expensive for county coffers.
But Marschner thinks the commissioners need
to decide soon how to proceed, since the county is trucking waste out of
"Eventually, they will have to make some
tough decisions about what we're going to do," Marschner said.
"It needs to happen in the next couple of months because we need to
be given some direction."
He is preparing a report and a 2 1Ú2-hour
PowerPoint presentation on his integrated waste management strategy
proposal to deliver to the commissioners on Oct. 22.
Marschner anticipates his plan will include
increasing recycling county-wide and for government agencies, building a
waste-to-energy plant, preventing waste through different programs and
education and instituting recycling programs for electronic waste such as
After he presents it to the commissioners, he
will ask them for feedback and find out what they would like to change.
The goal is to find long-term solutions to
the county's waste challenges and agree on ways to implement them, he
The county already has a 12-year "Solid
Waste Management Plan," which is the official document guiding waste
policy. It is part of the county's comprehensive plan and a major rewrite
on it is not due until 2017. The county completes updates roughly every
three years until then.
Marschner said the integrated waste
management strategy will help provide context to decisions commissioners
make in the 12-year plans until 2042. The strategy looks out to the
county's theoretical build-out point where the county has been developed
The items in the strategy will not be
officially adopted by the board of commissioners. Instead, it will
document the options and describe why the commissioners and staff think
different options present the most holistic guide to waste disposal over
Any items the commissioners want to formally
move forward with will have to be reconsidered for adoption in the Solid
Waste Management Plan, which goes through an extensive hearing process
and review by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
"This just sets the stage for discussion
on those options," Marshner said.
The county's landfill on Reich's Ford Road is
short on space. The landfill has a remaining capacity of about 600,000
tons. Without out-of-state waste transfer, it would be full in about 2
1Ú2 years. With transferring it to Virginia, the landfill's life has been
extended to 2040 or beyond.
Marschner said critics of waste-to-energy
plants or building another landfill often suggest technology will
eventually create better solutions, like nuclear fusion or other devices.
"If you start saying, well one day
there'll be a solution, my question is what am I going to do with the 800
tons per day waste handled by the landfill today?" Marshner said.
Likewise, he criticized those who suggest the
county can attain a 100 percent recycling rate with no waste to send to a
landfill or to burn.
"There is no way to get to 100 percent
recycling or the zero waste strategy that's been proposed,"
Marschner said. "Somebody's got to put a realistic tone on this
His strategy will call for increased
recycling and separate rates for recycling and landfilling to
incentivise recycling through higher costs for landfilling.
Some of the commissioners embraced increasing
recycling when they discussed the strategy briefly earlier this month.
"The only way I think we're gonna get
people's attention is to make it obvious they're paying more for
wastefulness," said Commissioner David Gray. "You appeal
to the highest principles and you reach a certain level. And there's
other people only the pocketbook, I think, will wake up."
Commissioners President Jan Gardner
said she would like the strategy to include recycling for multi-family homes and commercial buildings.
They did not indicate where they stand on incineration, but many have made comments indicating they are leaning toward support of it.
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