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[GreenYes] Re: Letter sent to Mayor of Albuquerque, Martin J. Chávez, 9/07

Neil ~
Why does Zero Waste focus in on two management techniques and not on the issue of reducing environmental impacts -- wherever they occur? It seems to me that Zero Waste does not necessarily lead towards sustainability, since there does not seem to be much -- if any -- consideration of the environmental impacts of its decision-making.
Best wishes,
-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]On Behalf Of Lindsay Reopelle
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:05 AM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] Letter sent to Mayor of Albuquerque, Martin J. Chávez, 9/07

Dear Martin J. Chávez,

It is heartening to learn that Albuquerque is yet another US city focusing on zero waste, the logical extension of the US post World War II recycling movement.

Zero waste is defined as 90%, or more, diversion from disposal in landfills or incinerators. It involves high degrees of source separation for recycling and composting, as well as clean manufacturing without toxic materials in our products and packages.

Incineration is not included in the zero waste calculation as this process destroys materials requiring new extraction from virgin resources and the resulting pollution from mining, forestry and transportation. Thus so-called waste to energy plants are in fact wasted energy plants as more energy is needed to replace materials than energy is created though incineration. With regard to air emissions from garbage incinerators---they are cleaner than years ago, but still emit pollutants.

Further, incineration contradicts another key component of the zero waste paradigm----more good jobs. Incineration creates one job per 10,000 tons processed, while recycling, composting and reuse create from 4 - 250 times more jobs per 10,000 tons of materials, depending upon which material is considered.

The city can also recover energy from clean organics that are currently discarded with alternative technologies operating at low temperatures, then compost the residue afterwards from those processes.  By not using high temperature systems and clean materials, you do not volatilize heavy metals that are in the mixed waste stream, and do not produce dioxins and furans, which are created when high temperature systems cool down.

ILSR and other groups, such as Zero Waste International Alliance and the California Resource Management Training Institute, can help train your staff to implement a plan that is developed for your city that can get you to 75%-90% diversion within three years. We can do this without incineration, which is the most expensive system (capital and operating costs)  you can use to handle discards from households and businesses.

Please review the documents prepared by ILSR for the US EPA which detail case studies of communities that have cut their waste stream in half, and then continued to recover more and more materials with the same infrastructure. The URLs for these reports are as follows: and

I am available for any questions you may have.


Neil Seldman
Institute for Local Sel-Reliance
Washington, DC

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