Susie and Joy,
Regarding gasification of “wood
chips,” note that the ZeGen pilot gasification project in New Bedford,
Massachusetts was unsuccessful at using wood chips (residuals from a
neighboring C&D processing facility), and had to switch to wood pellets, of
the sort that people use in their home stoves. The plant purportedly has had
success in making gas from the wood pellets. I obtained this info in an October
phone conversation with Mass DEP John Winkler, in charge of permitting in southeastern
Mass. If you check out Ze Gen’s
web site, you will see that the pilot has not met original expectations. The
project was supposed to be a demonstration model, but when I called Ze Gen I was told that they are not giving tours.
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Joy Towles Ezell
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2008
To: Helen Spiegelman; Neil Seldman
email@example.com; GreenYes abridged email subscribers;
Brenda Platt; Kate Bailey; Susie; joy
Subject: Re: [stopincinerators-US]
Re: [GreenYes] Re: ZERO WASTE ACTIVISM TAKES ON GLOBAL WARMING
Dan said "Most of this will never be subject to
EPR because it is already made and aging slowly toward inevitable discard at
whatever kind of facilities we will have invented and built to receive it
when it reaches the end of its useful life."
The version that is plaguing us in Florida in
increasing numbers of proposals, is biomass "gasification" --
incinerators in disguise. The FL Dept of Env Reg was about to issue a
permit to BG&E (Biomass Gasification & Energy) until several brave
people decided to file a legal challenge to the permit.
FL DEP planned to allow some 15 pages of
exceptions to the Clean Air Act, to allow these snake-oil salesmen to ply
their wares upon Tallahassee, FL with this latest "gasification"
plan - magic that produces electricity from "syngas".
The proposed permit merely says "wood
chips", however the contract (and state law in a new defnintion of
biomass) for the facility includes woody biomass, wood waste materials,
manufacturing and construction wood wastes (other than that which
cannot be converted to a synthetic gas), creosote-treated wood, paper mill
wastes, mill residues, msw (but not to include msw which cannot be safely and
appropriately recovered as a refuse derived fuel consisting of organics and
other clean biomass appropriate for conversion to a clean, safe synthetic
gas, to include post-consumer used paper products, other than that used
locally for recycled paper)??? what?? They also want to burn
agricultural resources, including at least one invasive species, which they
plan to contract with farmers to grow, such as arundo donax.
We've been working with GreenAction,
GAIA, Energy Justice, ILSR to get the truth out to people and to try to stop
this latest bad idea. We have a huge fight going on locally.
We'd welcome help from experts in our
permit challenge. Please contact us !
This permit fight has implications for
Florida and the Southeast; if BG&E gets this permit for the proposed
facility, you can count on many more of the same to come, wasting vast
quantities of materials and causing increased air pollution and all the
miseries that go with it.
850 584 7087 office & fax 850
843 1574 cell
Floridians Against Incinerators In Disguise
--- On Sat, 12/13/08, Neil Seldman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Neil Seldman
Subject: Re: [stopincinerators-US] Re: [GreenYes] Re: ZERO WASTE ACTIVISM
TAKES ON GLOBAL WARMING
To: "Helen Spiegelman" <email@example.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, "GreenYes abridged email
subscribers" <GreenYes@no.address>, "Brenda Platt"
<email@example.com>, "Kate Bailey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, December 13, 2008, 4:06 AM
Dan, my version is recycling, composting and
redesign of products and packages = zero waste. What #s do you disagree with?
On Dec 12, 2008, at 10:29 PM, Helen Spiegelman
It's great that Dan is out there scooping up
valuable construction materials that would otherwise go to waste.
I remember during the 1980s and 1990s here in Vancouver, when opportunistic
developers anticipated the transfer of assets from Hong Kong to Canada (aided
and abetted by federal government policy here) and many hundreds of sound
little houses were demolished in our city, only to be replace with hastily
built "monster houses" (called that by locals because they were big
and ostentatious as they were ugly).
A small portion of the total destroyed housing stock was salvaged through
"Demo Sales" that were held the weekend before the demolition crews
came in. Often it was immigrant small business people of modest means who
made a deal with the developer to sell off oak and fir flooring, windows,
doors, and other building materials that the buyers would remove with their
own crowbars. Sort of a U-pick Urban Ore operation...
Most of the waste that eluded the Demo Sale shoppers ended up not in
municipal waste landfills and incinerators, but in local dumps permitted to
take "inert" materials. Several of these facilities caught fire
during the 90s. Some of the demo waste ended up in our municipal landfill,
and it caught fire there too, burning out of control for three weeks in one
Even though construction waste is a huge problem. The short-sighted
demolition of sound buildings, as well as the sloppiness of construction
crews driven by avaricious developers for whom time is money, is a travesty.
EPR is not the right tool to prevent wasting in the construction industry.
Here we are exploring municipal instruments like development and occupancy
On the other hand, the buildings that are being constructed now should be
subject to some sort of EPR. The junky building materials will have no
salvage value for Urban Ore or informal "Demo Sale" proprietors.
At 01:45 PM 12/12/2008, Dan Knapp wrote:
As perhaps the original zero waster (I called it
"total recycling" in 1986 when I first presented the no-waste
theory at a Governor's Conference in West Virginia) I wish I could agree with
my colleagues at ILSR, GAIA, and Eco-Cycle on their overall numbers for
wasting and recycling, but I cannot.
Mr. Montague says the 170 million tons wasted is "two-thirds of
everything we make", which might lead one to believe that what is wasted
is the same tonnage as that which all of our manufacturers and farms made in
any given year. This is false. Instead, what is actually being
wasted each year is drawn from the already-built landscape of our cities,
towns, and farms, and includes giant quantities of things that are grown as
well as a diminishing percentage of everything made each and every year since
Europeans settled this continent and displaced the native Americans who
already lived here. Most of this will never be subject to EPR
because it is already made and aging slowly toward inevitable discard at
whatever kind of facilities we will have invented and built to receive it
when it reaches the end of its useful life.
That fact is one reason why the overblown rhetoric of the EPR people (the
most notorious being the formula EPR + composting = Zero Waste) is a grossly
inadequate guide to what must be done to actually get to zero waste to
landfill or incineration.
What must actually be done is to build a vast new network of zero waste
transfer facilities featuring pay-as-you-throw financing for twelve major
commodity categories into which all of what is now called "solid
waste" (we zero wasters increasingly call it the "discard
supply") can profitably be sorted. The opportunity to do this has
never been better, because most of the first-generation materials recovery
facilities are old and in dire need of replacement and rebuilding, and
because the current market collapse for commodities like paper has exposed
the weakness of a business model that relies on mixing unlike things first
and trying to separate them after they have been hopelessly
contaminated. Another reason is the change in political leadership due
to the recent election, which is why it is so important to get a real
understanding of the way the disposal marketplace actually works instead of a
fantasy put forward by people who spend too much time in front of a computer
screen, and not enough at the actual places where the discard supply goes to
A further problem with these numbers is that they do not accurately measure,
and in fact reduce by an unknown but vast amount, the actual reuse,
recycling, and composting numbers that are occurring. I have first-hand
experience with this phenomenon, and believe it is widespread. My
company, Urban Ore, is one of countless thousands who recycle every day and
the bulk of whose contribution to conserving materials for beneficial reuse
is never measured at all. In Urban Ore's case, we actually divert 7,000
to 8,000 tons per year from landfill, but only about 800 of those tons
actually get reported to the state agency that oversees these things, because
the only thing the state is interested in counting is what shows up at the
city's regional transfer station. We pull 800 tons per year from these
tons, but ten times that much comes to us at our facility located a mile and
a half from the City's transfer station complex. We actually compete
with the transfer station for the same materials as they waste; our gain is
their loss, which is why the National Recycling Coalition with its model of
recyclers working with the wasters to get higher recycling numbers does not
represent reality as we who are on the front lines of the competition
actually experience it.
Thanks for the post.
Daniel Knapp, Ph.D., CEO
Urban Ore, Inc. a reuse and recycling company in Berkeley, California since
On Dec 12, 2008, at 8:01 AM, David Ciplet wrote:
From: Rachel's Democracy &
Health News #989, Dec. 11, 2008
ZERO WASTE ACTIVISM TAKES ON GLOBAL WARMING
the Big Three automakers are licking their chops over the $14 to $34 billion
in tax-payer bailouts they hope to find in their Christmas stocking.
Meanwhile, community based environment, health, jobs and justice activists
are planning an important Zero Waste Communities conference in the Motor City February 6-9, 2009.
conference will bring together community-based activists from the U.S. and
Canada aiming to create jobs by phasing out dumps and incinerators. Unlike
the auto executives who have resisted innovation and the manufacture of
cleaner cars, these activists will be organizing, sharing ideas, and swapping
business plans to create real economic opportunity for communities of color
and/or low income.
The Zero Waste
Communities conference is part of a broad trend that is
changing the environmental movement in the U.S. Grassroots activists are
increasingly committed to solving serious environmental and health problems
by creating sustainable green jobs, and using global warming as a multi-issue
rallying cry for justice and sustainable prosperity.
The "Zero Waste" conference, hosted by the Coalition
for a New Business Model for
Detroit Solid Waste,
is part of the global fight to stop landfills and incinerators from wreaking
havoc on low-income people, indigenous communities, people of color, and the
fabric of life on the entire planet.
conference comes on the heels of a new report, Stop Trashing the Climate. The 70-page report by Eco-Cycle,
the Institute for
Self-Reliance (ILSR), and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
(GAIA) (who have also produced a 7 page companion statement Zero Waste for Zero Warming and a video) -- convincingly argues that governments can adopt zero waste strategies to greatly reduce their need for
landfills and incinerators and
combat climate change.
Dave Ciplet, an organizer with GAIA and one of the report's authors, says
that the aim of Zero
Waste is investing, "in the workforce, infrastructure
and local strategies needed to reduce what we trash in incinerators and
landfills to zero by a given year. It means stopping even another dime of
taxpayer money from subsidizing waste disposal projects that contaminate
environments and the people who live there."
Rachel's readers know, there are many good reasons to find safer alternatives
to burying and burning trash. Landfills and incinerators are major sources of
toxic pollution that harm the environment and human health. The report
makes it alarmingly clear that dumps and incinerators are also major sources
of greenhouse gases (GHG), speeding us towards a world too hot for human
to the new report, we
bury or burn nearly 170 million tons of stuff every year in the U.S. This is
two-thirds of everything we make.(p.14) Only one-third gets recycled, re-used
Typical household trash is comprised
of 59% organic matter -- an amount that equals 100 million tons (200 billion
pounds) of wood, paper, food, and yard trimmings thrown away annually,
according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After you bury
trash, bacteria convert the organic matter into methane and CO2. Methane is a
potent greenhouse gas that is up to 72 times more powerful at trapping heat
than CO2. Landfills are the largest producers of methane and consequently
their gasses pose a threat to climate stability.(p. 14)
garbage is a messy but
profitable business. It takes useful material (wood, paper,
metal, plastic, food scraps and lawn clippings)
and converts it to heat and C02 (plus creating a brand new set of nasty
chemicals like dioxins and furans). Then someone has to create
all that stuff again. For every piece of paper that is burned or buried, a
new piece of paper has to be manufactured -- starting with cutting down a
tree somewhere, transporting it, chemically processing it, and so on.
waste industry ignores the replacement cost of items that are burned or
buried. They "greenwash" so-called "waste-to-energy"
projects (aka, incinerators), proposing them as a 'solution' to the climate
crisis, because they make something 'good' (electricity) from otherwise 'bad'
stuff, like methane from landfills; or garbage that would otherwise take up
precious landfill space.
the report authors estimate that landfills and incinerators are directly
responsible for 7% of our greenhouse gas emissions -- 5% from landfills and
2% from incinerators. What is important here, is that the 7% of greenhouse
gas emissions produced by our garbage actually accounts for 37% of emissions
if you take into account all the mining, logging, milling, oil drilling,
transporting and manufacturing required to produce new stuff.(p.24)
report advocates serious recycling of the raw materials present in discarded
items, rather than burning or burying them. We could divert all the
reusables, recyclables and compostables from the waste stream, capturing 90%
of the material and reducing the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions in
the process by at least 7%; today, in contrast, we capture only about 30% for
reuse. This 7% reduction in greenhouse has emissions would be equal to
shutting down 83 (one fifth) of the nation's 417 coal-burning power plants
this could be considered an interim goal -- on our way to a zero-waste
manufacturing society. Among the 12 principles of
green engineering, principle #6 is to retain
complexity when reusing or recycling materials. In other words, a bottle has
been manufactured for a particular purpose. Its shape, its size, the varying
thickness of its base and neck -- are all essential to its purpose. Those
design features should be retained, rather than just crushing the bottle back
to glass shards and remelting them into a new bottle. As
Paul Palmer of the Zero Waste
Institute points out, bottles should be marked with a
special machine-readable code so that a sorting machine can process garbage
and extract bottles into proper categories. Then the bottles could be
re-filled, re sealed and re-used many times -- just as bottles used to be
re-used in this country before about 1960.
circuit boards -- the guts of our computers and cell phones -- should be
manufactured in modules with the circuit diagrams published online so that
they could be re-used in new products rather than being simply crushed and
discarded. Their inherent complexity should be viewed as an investment that
we should not throw away.
every ton of trash that we landfill or incinerate in the U.S., another 71
tons of waste are produced during the mining, drilling, logging, processing,
transporting, and manufacturing of those products.(p. 19) Burning or burying
our municipal discards entails great replacement costs.
1970, we have consumed one-third of the world's available natural resources
-- forests, minable metals, fossil fuels, and so on. This enormous waste
is the main reason why, if everyone in the world tried to live as we live in
the U.S., we would need six
planet Earths to provide the raw materials and
places to throw stuff away. Our U.S. throw-away lifestyle is threatening the
planet with ecological overshoot and collapse, while
producing massive profits
for certain industries.
recycling and composting are threats to those major industries that profit
from our single-use society. If we were reusing the 170 million tons of
municipal discards that are currently going into landfills and incinerators,
then we would effectively be reducing 12 billion tons (71 tons of waste times
170 million tons of stuff) of industrial waste. This is the kind of savings
that could put us on the path towards real sustainability. We might actually
be able to
envision a no-growth, steady-state
economy (gasp). (More on a steady-state economy here.)
zero-waste manufacturing is not on the national agenda (yet) for many
municipal governments, diverting usable stuff from landfills and incinerators
is an idea whose time has come, and dozens of cities around the world are
taking it seriously. As part of the Urban Environmental Accords, cities like Oakland,
Portland and Seattle have agreed to meet the goal of zero waste by
2040.(p.49) San Francisco (which already recycles close to 70% of its trash)
has committed to increasing that proportion to 90% by 2020 -- and they are
demonstrating that this can be done using today's technology with
curbside recycling and composting programs.
manufacturing -- designing for reuse -- is going to get us beyond 90%
recycling -- which slows our rate of raw material consumption but doesn't
stop it -- to 99%. Some of the incentives for society to make that transition
will include extended producer responsibility (EPR), which makes it
industry's responsibility to design non-toxic, reusable, recyclable or
compostable products. With EPR, the manufacturers of an item (such as a TV)
liability for the item at the end of its useful life --
creating an incentive to manufacture with something in mind besides a
landfill or incinerator, both of which endanger the environment and public
health. (In the U.S., California is leading the way with a Product Stewardship
Council with a very broad membership. The Product
Policy Institute in Athens, Ga. has been instrumental in this
important development; see their video, Cradle to Cradle.)
good news here is that we can now see unequivocally that we must change and
that zero waste -- meaning both recycling and
zero- waste manufacturing -- must be part of the solution if we are to get on
the path towards sustainability. On our present course, the garbage stream
will grow steadily from 250 million tons per year in 2006 to over 300 million
tons by 2030 (an increase of 20%). With zero waste firmly in our
decision-making toolkit, we can envision a world without a waste stream that
poisons both future generations and ourselves.
if Congress had the creative insight and the guts to say no to the Big Three
auto makers and yes to millions of green jobs and thousands of
community-based economic engines (public works projects) based on the
principles of resource conservation, clean production and zero waste manufacturing. That would be a
bailout worth fighting for, and one that would certainly help us step back
from the brink of climate chaos.
Brenda Platt, David Ciplet, Kate Bailey and Eric Lombardi, Stop Trashing
the Climate (June 2008). www.stoptrashingtheclimate.org
See for example, Michelle Allsopp, Pat Costner, and Paul Johnson, Incineration &
Public Health: State of Knowledge of the
Waste Incineration on Human Health (Greenpeace, Exeter, UK: March 2001). And,
also: Cormier, S. A., Lomnicki, S., Backes, W., and
Dellinger, B. (June 2006). "Origin and Health Impacts of Emissions of
Toxic By-Products and Fine Particles from Combustion and Thermal
Treatment of Hazardous Wastes and Materials." Environmental Health
Perspectives, 114(6): 810-817.
Over a twenty year period, methane is 72 times as potent a greenhouse gas as
CO2; over a 100-year period, methane's potency drops
to 25 times that of CO2 because some of the methane decomposes over time (it
has a half-life of seven years in the atmosphere). The report
authors use the twenty-year time period -- potency of 72 -- because of the
urgency of the climate catastrophe and because of the potential
benefits of reducing methane emissions in the short term. Dr. Ed J.
Dlugokencky, Global Methane Expert at NOAA says, "Scientifically
speaking, using the 20-year time horizon to assess methane emissions is as
equally valid as using the 100-year time horizon."(p. 7)
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism, Little
Brown and Company, (1999), p. 4.
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