The Zero Waste Petition for Dutchess County
Dutchess County residents
members of the Real Majority Project
More Info at:
Dutchess County Legislature Environmental Committee Chair
County Legislator (Clinton/Rhinebeck)
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
p.s. Resolution #209072 from yours truly did pass unanimously in our County Legislature in March for our county's Planning Department/Solid Waste Commissioner et. al. to apply for federal stimulus funds for help towards new zero-waste approach to resource recovery here in Dutchess County-- but much more needs to be done to follow up on this (the more of you out there who sign on to this the better).
[also-- zero waste was alos at the very top of last year's special Earth Day Newsweek "10 Fixes for the Planet" article by Anne Underwood (4/14/08)-- see: http://www.newsweek.com/id/130625?tid=relatedcl\%20 ]
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Ten Key Reasons Why Dutchess County Should Go Zero-Waste:
Fact #1: "More than two thirds of the materials we use are still burned or buried, despite the fact that we have the technical capacity to cost-effectively recycle, reuse, or compost 90\% of what we waste."
[from http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org -- June 2008 report from http://www.ILSR.org ]
Fact #2: "Over 30 tons of waste is produced for every ton of product that reaches the consumer, and then 98\% of those products are thrown away within six months. The US generates more waste per capita each year, while available landfill capacity diminishes. American consumers dispose of approximately 133,000 computers every day." (from Steve Attinger: "Extended Producer Responsibility")
[see: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/pointer2.cfm?NewsID=34241 ]
Fact #3: Dutchess taxpayers spent $1,167,271 on "Solid Waste" (incineration) in 2006, $5,005,364 last year on this as well (in 2008), and are to spend $6,330,612 on this in 2009-- if status quo holds on this.
Dutchess County's current Solid Waste Management Plan will expire in 2010, and its NYS Solid Waste Permit to operate the county incinerator will also expire in 2011; DEC requires adoption of new environmental Dutchess Solid Waste Management Plan; contract with burn plant is done in 2014.
[see: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/nysaroct08.pdf ]
Fact #4: "The following companies have saved through using Zero Waste strategies to reduce waste and improve efficiency-- Interface, Inc. in Atlanta has eliminated over $165M in waste-- Xerox Corporation in Rochester has had a Waste-Free Factory environmental performance goal since the early 1990's (criteria including reductions in solid and hazardous waste, emissions, energy consumption and increase recycling; this program resulted in a savings of $45M in 1998)-- Hewlett Packard in Roseville, CA reduced its waste by 95\% and saved $870,564 in 1998-- and Epson in Portland, OR has reduced its waste to zero and has saved $300,000."
[ http://www.ZeroWaste.org ]
Fact #5: Over 2,800 businesses in Japan have adopted Zero Waste as a goal, and 99\% of them have already achieved Zero Waste to landfill. All the Zero Waste Businesses that we have documented have
saved money, reduced their liability, increased their operating efficiency, and reduced carbon footprint.
[ http://www.GaryLiss.com ; http://www.grrn.org/zerowaste/business/profiles.php ]
Fact #6: The Institute for Local Self-Reliance/Teamsters goal of a national recycling rate of 75\% would create two million jobs and save millions of tax dollars, as already more Americans work in the recycling industry than in auto industry, and Americans already pay $40 billion to $70 billion a year handling solid waste. [see http://www.ILSR.org ]
Fact #7: Dutchess County could create a track for good-paying union jobs as well in deconstruction-- as Neil Seldman and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has successfully done in Hartford and other cities across the U.S., working with AFSCME, Laborers International, Sheetmetal Workers, and Teamsters.
[see http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/rebuildeconhartford.html ]
Fact #8: "Significantly decreasing waste disposed in incinerators and landfills will reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent to closing 21\% of U.S. coal-fired power plants. This is comparable to leading climate protection proposals such as improving national vehicle fuel efficiency. Indeed, preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting are essential to put us on the path to climate stability."
[ http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org ]
Fact #9: "Incinerators emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, or oil-fired
power plants. Incinerating materials such as wood, paper, yard debris, and food discards is far from 'climate neutral'; rather, incinerating these and other materials is detrimental to the climate. By reducing waste creation and disposal, the U.S. can conservatively decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 406 megatons CO2 eq. per year by 2030. This zero waste approach would reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of closing one-fifth of the existing 417 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. This would achieve 7\% of the cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions needed to put us on the path to achieving what many leading scientists say is necessary to stabilize the climate by 2050."
[ http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org ]
Fact #10: "By reducing waste generation 1\% each year and diverting 90\% of our discards from landfills and incinerators by the year 2030, we could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the U.S. and around the world. This waste reduction scenario would put us solidly on track to achieving the goal of sending zero waste to landfills and incinerators by the year 2040, the target established by the Urban Environmental Accords, which 103 city mayors worldwide have signed."
[ http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org ]
[so think globally-- act locally-- and sign on to this petition!]
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Twelve Zero-Waste Recommendations for Dutchess County Legislation/Infrastructure:
1. Dutchess County should set a goal of 70\% recycling rate by 2012 and a 90\% recycling rate by 2025 (as in Los Angeles; San Francisco was actually at a 70\% waste diversion rate already last year and has established a 90\% waste diversion rate by 2025; Oakland has cut the amount of trash it sends to landfills by 60\% since 1990; Vermont, Austin, Nova Scotia, and other communities as well, as Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman and many others have pointed out across U.S.).
[see: http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/index.html ; http://www.GaryLiss.com ; http://www.GRRN.org ;
http://www.No-Burn.org ; http://www.Ecocycle.org ; http://www.Biocycle.net ; http://www.ZeroWaste.org ;
http://www.ZWIA.org ; http://metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=12748 ; http://www.CVSWMD.org ]
2. Dutchess County should create at least one resource recovery park to help create green jobs recycling 100\% of our solid waste-- paper (25\%), plant debris (25\%), wood (10\%), plastics (7\%), reusable goods (5\%), ceramics (5\%), putrescibles (fats/oils/greases/animal/fruit/vegetable debris: 5\%), glass (5\%), metals (5\%), soils (3\%), textiles (3\%), chemicals (2\%)-- as in California, Florida, and Hawaii, and along the lines of what the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange has long done with reusables.
[see: http://www.grrn.org/zerowaste/twelve_categories.html ; http://www.HVME.com ;
3. Dutchess County should invest $50,000 (out of a $400 million annual county budget and/or from new federal stimulus funding) in commissioning an expert report from the DC-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance on how "a new approach to solid waste management could save $10 million annually for government, households and businesses in Dutchess County-- that new approach being resource management, which focus on recovering valuable materials for processing and resale to industry and agriculture-- this new system to be in place within 3-5 years generating jobs, new small businesses and expanded tax base for Dutchess": according to Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman.
[see: http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/index.html ]
4. Dutchess County should mandate that all waste haulers and municipalities/transfer stations implement a pay-as-you-throw policy and incentivize recycling and composting instead of incineration and landfilling (as in San Francisco and over 7000 other communities across the U.S.).
[see: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/payt/index.htm ; http://www.epa.gov/payt/.
http://www.sunsetscavenger.com/residential/composting.php?t=r ; great contacts for businesses here:
5. Dutchess County should ban organics from being accepted as trash at our county incinerator, transfer stations, or by waste haulers, as in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Nova Scotia-- and mandate that food waste be collected separately by waste haulers and by municipalities/transfer stations-- including at supermarkets, as in Pennsylvania (and curbside in villages/cities-- as in Onondaga and Tompkins counties, Seattle, Boulder, Cambridge, San Francisco).
[ http://www.cool2012.com/community/collection/ http://www.jgpress.com/archives/_free/000525.html ;
http://www.recycletompkins.org/editorstree/view/177 ; http://ccetompkins.org/compost/index.html ;
http://www.pfma.org/main_gr-pop.html?iss=&rid=73 ; http://greenwayny.com/beta/about/?id=bio ;
http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2008/11/18/local/local03.txt ; http://www.OCCRA.org ;
6. Dutchess County should mandate that recycling bins be placed next to all trash receptacles (as already at local train stations, colleges, in some county buildings, and in Santa Barbara County).
[ http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=502419 ; http://www.dailynexus.com/article.php?a=5852 ]
7. Dutchess County should ban electronic waste from being accepted as trash at transfer stations and across the county-- as already in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Arkansas-- and enforce a ban on recyclable construction demolition and debris from incineration and landfilling (as Massachusetts proposed in 2001 in its Solid Waste Management Plan).
[see: http://www.newrules.org/environment/rules/recycling-and-solid-waste ;
8. Dutchess County should mandate only see-through plastic bags used for trash (as in Omaha, NE), and should accept plastic bags for recycling (as Westchester began doing in April).
[see: http://www.wasteline.org/graphics/WL/wl-nr-mini.pdf ;
9. Dutchess County should enact a local level of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky's statewide Environmentally Sound Packaging Act legislation (A.4109)-- and mandate that within five years all packaging for products sold in the county sold have at least 50\% post-consumer recycled content.
[see: http://www.GreenBlue.org ; http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A4109 ]
10. Dutchess County should stop toxins from entering our waste stream to begin with-- by banning BPA in baby bottles and baby feeding products (as Suffolk County just moved to do in March)-- by banning
polystyrene (styrofoam) in county offices, departments, and agencies-- as in Rockland County, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and over 90 other communities across the U.S.-- by banning PVC in consumer packaging (as California is considering)-- by banning products with persistent bioaccumulative toxins from Dutchess County offices, departments and agencies (as Erie County has done)-- by greatly limiting the concentration of hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, flame retardants PBB and PBDE in electronic and electrical products sold in Dutchess County (as Europe did in 2006; U-Mass's Lowell Center for Sustainable Production found alternatives for toxins)-- and by using sustainable plastics whenever possible instead of toxic plastics (as in Boulder, Seattle, San Francisco).
[see: http://centerforinvestigativereporting.org/articles/aninterviewwithmarkschapiro ;
http://www.SustainablePlastics.org ; http://www.SustainableProduction.org ;
11. Dutchess County should enact a tax on hazardous waste (as in Vermont)-- assessed on generators when waste is shipped, or when facilities recycle, treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste-- based on quantity and if destined for recycling, treatment, or land-disposal.
[see: http://www.newrules.org/environment/rules/recycling-and-solid-waste/hazardous-waste-tax ]
12. Dutchess County should shut down its incinerator by 2014 (contract w/Montenay/Veolia runs out then); besides costing county taxpayers 425\% more this year than it did just three years ago, our county incinerator emits 3700 tons of carbon emissions into our air every year, hastening global warming
(Austin is saving $100 million with new zero-waste approach; Detroit as well after closing incinerator).
[see: http://carma.org/plant/detail/11553 ; http://www.350.org ;
also: http://www.emagazine.com/view/?4315 ;
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From Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance ([email protected])...
[ILSR.org: 927 15th Street, 4th Floor Washington, DC 20005 202 898 1610 X 210]
"Recycling and Economic Development in Dutchess County, NY
A Proposal from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington, DC
Presented to Dutchess County Legislators Jim Doxsey, Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Joel Tyner
A new approach to solid waste management can possibly save $10 million annually for government, households and businesses in Dutchess County, NY. The new approach is resource management, which focus on recovering valuable materials for processing and resale to industry and agriculture. The new system could be in place within 3-5 years and would generate jobs, small businesses and an expanded tax base for the county.
II Background to the Problem
Dutchess County now operates a waste incinerator through a County authorized agency. The net cost of this facility has been growing rapidly over the last five years from $1 million to $6 million annually. The facility will reach the end of its planned life in 2014.
Throughout the Hudson Valley Region, local governments are developing innovative programs that are diverting materials in the waste stream into recycling and composting facilities.
At the same time, private enterprises are emerging to process and recycle for sale organic matter as compost, glass as a construction aggregate and construction and demolition (C and D) materials as construction aggregate. These new companies employ an estimated 50 workers. They handle a total thousands of tons per year that are diverted from landfill and incineration. If the materials they handle were sent to a landfill or an incinerator, only one job would be sustained per ten thousand tons of materials processed. If recycled and composted hundreds of jobs in the county can be created and sustained.
It is important to emphasize that these materials are generated locally and the end products of these companies are needed by the local economy. Thus, most of the waste materials in Dutchess County are feedstock for local companies and markets.
The key issue facing Dutchess County with regard to solid waste management is NOT how will the waste be handled in the future and at what cost. It is how to immediately start the transition to a materials and economic development program. How can recycling and composting entities be grown to have the capacity to process all the raw materials that are available? How can the transition to resource management use the stimulus dollars from federal and state programs to make this transition?
III Opportunity Knocking
The Dutchess County Legislature has taken steps to address these issues.
Following a series of meetings with County Legislators Jim Doxsey, Joel Tyner and Barbara Jeter-Jackson, and citizen and business stakeholders with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the County Legislature passed a resolution creating a Sustainability Task Force to identify appropriate options that may be available to Dutchess County.
These local developments parallel developments at the national and state levels. The federal Neighborhood Stabilization, infrastructure stimulus and green jobs programs are providing resources for planning and implementation over the next few years. Agencies that have available funds include USDA, DOE, EPA, HHS, DOL and the Economic Development Administration
Dutchess County can take advantage of these circumstances by attracting federal dollars to allow for the county's transition from waste management to resource management. After implementation, traditional budgets for maintaining the system will come from government and business sources just as they do now. Only the amount of budget needs will be lower than they are now because expensive facilities such as landfills and incinerators will be wholly or partially replaced by diverting materials to processing and manufacturing companies.
Plans for the future are already being contemplated. The Dutchess County Resource Recovery Authority has already issues an RFP requesting consulting firms to identify alternative approaches to solid waste management. The County's solid waste management plan, required by the state DEC, is also due.
Duthcess County has the opportunity to make tremendous process toward a sustainable materials management system. One that meets environmental and economic needs of the county.
IV ILSR's Qualifications
ILSR is a 35-year-old research and technical assistance organization, which has focused on recycling, composting and economic development. ILSR has worked in rural areas, small towns and urban areas. Our track record includes successful projects for the US EPA, Health and Human Resources, World Bank, and cities and counties including Hawaii County, King County, WA, Alachua County, FL, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Juan, Cleveland, Austin and Nashville.
ILSR works in the area of business start up, worker training, industrial park development, industry recruitment and financial resource planning. ILSR staff works comfortably with government agencies, businesses and citizen organizations. As noted by Howard Quirk of the Victoria Foundation, years ago, ILSR is a critical institution for conservatives who believe in market oriented approaches and liberals who believe in community development.
For full background on ILSR's Waste to Wealth Program, refer to ilsr.org on the Internet.
V Dutchess County Project
ILSR proposes the following scope of work in order to produce a comprehensive report on what exact next steps the county should take in order to realize the benefits of recycling, composting and economic development:
-- Extensive site visit to public and private facilities; and meetings with key stakeholders.
-- Develop a 5 person Project Advisory Committee (PAC) comprised on leaders within the Dutchess
-- County Legislature to provide feedback and review draft reports.
-- Develop a Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) comprised of Dutchess County solid waste officials, recycling and composting business representatives and environmental organization representatives, to evaluate the methodology and final report.
-- Prepare a preliminary report for review by the PAC.
-- Revise final draft report based on feedback from the PAC.
-- Conduct stakeholder meetings to present and discuss final draft report.
-- Submit report to PAC for final comment and PEC for evaluation.
A preliminary outline of the final report is as follows:
Background data on generation rates and composition, current costs.
Audit of existing recycling and composting activities by public and private agencies, current capacity and current employment levels.
Review of best practices from around the US with regard to equipment, contractual arrangements, incentives for businesses and households, procurement, industrial parks for recycling and composting companies, recommendations for recruiting key companies and expanding existing companies.
Cost estimates for implementation, job creation and economic impact of a recycling and composting system compared to current landfill and incineration program.
New rules and regulations needed to reinforce and nurture new system. Address critical issues of how best to use crumb rubber technology, evaluation of marginal pricing for County incinerator, potential energy and cost savings from resource management system.
Five-year time-line for implementation.
Sources of outside funds to achieve 75\% recycling and composting by 2015.
Conduct public meetings for government, business and citizen stakeholders.
ILSR will use the following team to undertake the tasks described above within a 4-month period:
Brenda Platt, ILSR, compost specialist
Neil Seldman, ILSR, business development specialist
Simon Gruber, environmental advisor
Sam Sage, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, state legislative analyst,
Jim Frey, Resource Recycling Systems, engineering advisor
ILSR staff $22,500
Printing 1,000 = $50,000"
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Recall http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2009/February09/20/recyc_selfrel-20Feb09.html ...
Feb. 20th: Self reliance expert promotes recycling, waste reduction over landfilling [incineration]
POUGHKEEPSIE The president of the non-profit Institute for Local Self Reliance told audiences in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh Thursday that the way to bring down the use of landfills is to expand recycling, waste reduction, building deconstruction and related fields. Neil Seldman of Washington, DC spoke to audiences at Vassar College and Newburgh Free Library and said federal stimulus money could help grow this technology, create new jobs and increase recycling. We think if the federal government matches local spending with about $10-$20 billion, the transition from our current of recycling, which is 33-34 percent nationally can be increased to 75 percent within three to five years, he said. Seldman met with Dutchess legislators Joel Tyner, Barbara Jeter-Jackson and James Doxsey who agreed that if more jobs could be created and recycling increased, it would be a win-win for the economy and society.
Thanks a ton again to all who turned out for Neil Seldman's Feb. 19th and 27th Poughkeepsie talks organized by yours truly with Vassar Sustainability Committee folks Lucy Johnson and Jeff Walker-- Rockland County Environmental Committee Chair Connie Coker, Jonathan Smith, Laurie Husted of Bard's Environmental Program, David Dell of Sustainable Hudson Valley, Manna Jo Greene of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Allison Morrill Chatrchyan of Cornell Cooperative Extension's Environmental Program, Patricia Zolnik of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Michelle Leggett of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, Co. Leg. Jim Doxsey (and Co. Leg. Barbara Jeter-Jackson earlier), Rhinebeck Village Boardmembers Barbara Kraft and Svend Beecher, Dave Petrovits of Recycling Crushing Technology, Vassar Economics Professor Bill Lunt, environmentalists extraordinaire Marie Caruso, Nancy Swanson, and Tom Baldino, Richard Dennison, Fred and Alice Bunnell, and Cary Kittner, Vassar students Katherine Straus, Anna Weisberg, Nadine Souto, and Susan Unver, and Damon and Stephanie Lewis, Mary Schmalz, Margaret Slomin, Chris Wimmers, Patrick and Liz Noonan, Amanda Adams, Caitlin Zinsley, Peter Prunty, Chris Eufemia, Allie Chipkin, Jamie Roderick, Sarah Womer, Frank Haggerty, Frankie Mancini, et. al.
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From http://fourstory.org/features/story/investing-in-zero-waste-some-lessons-for-la/ ...
"Investing in Zero Waste: Some Lessons for L.A."
by Neil Seldman
[Neil Seldman is co-founder and president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Seldman is a social enterprise technician. He assists in the startup and expansion of recycling enterprises for profit and non-profit entities. Seldman is an advisor to the City of Los Angeles Zero Waste Program, also known as the Solid Waste Integrated Resource Program (SWIRP).]
Zero Waste is becoming the new conventional wisdom when it comes to handling municipal solid wastes. Public and private sector investors are staking claims to growth industries and doing well. At the same time, however, there are lemons and pitfalls to avoid. In the last few months, for example, it was announced that two successful Hollywood regulars were caught up in tens of millions of dollars of bad investments in a crumb rubber enterprise. (Processing old tires into useful products.)
The urge to do well by doing good can lead to a bad bottom line.
Here are some things to look for as you explore zero waste investment opportunities:
1. Identify key sectors that will need immediate and long-term attention
... e.g., tires and rubber compounds, electronic scrap, construction and demolition (C and D) waste, organic materials.
2. Focus on companies that address large sections of the waste stream, and produce quality products that will be in demand.
Here are a few great examples:
o Crumb rubber companies that produce high value virgin-substitute quality directly back to the tire, shoe or gasket manufacturer ... not companies that produce crude low value material suitable only for roadbeds and asphalt mixes. The key strategy in crumb rubber from old tires is the pre-processing, or deconstruction of the tire into its component parts, before final processing. This includes separating the different kinds of rubber that comprise a modern car or truck tire. There is a crumb rubber company that meets these requirements; and, it is already qualified by the California Integrated Solid Waste Management Board. The company is looking for a site in the state.
o Electronic scrap hand dismantling companies that recover working parts and segregate alloys ... not companies that shred mixed products to recover lower value metals.
o C and D companies that recover materials for reuse in construction and rehab ... not those that dispose of the estimated 200 million tons of this material annually.
Organic matter comprises 50\% of the estimated 250 million tons of municipal solid waste (garbage) discarded annually by households and businesses and government offices. These materials are a perfect recipe for high quality black gold-topsoil, amendments needed by agriculture and industry-worth $100 per ton and a requirement for a sustainable food sector.
3. Look for companies that are responding to new rules and regulations.
Electronic scrap and old tires, for example, have been or will soon be banned from landfills and incinerators. In Pasadena, California, a new ordinance came into effect in October containing new standards aimed at reducing C and D waste from going to the city's landfill. Contractors must recycle at least 75\% of this material. In San Jose, a contractor must put up a bond before building takedown. The bond is reimbursed after proof of recycling is presented to the city.
4. Track record.
Only consider companies with an operational history and established markets. Only consider newly developing companies that have provided independent, objective financial, market, political and legal review.
5. Purchase industrial land for recycling and composting industries.
Referred to as Resource Recovery Parks, these zones can form the backbone of the infrastructure needed for sustainable resource management in the near and long-term future. California has pioneered in developing Recycling Market Development Zones throughout the state. The City of Los Angeles has such an RMDZ. Private developers can invest in properties and recruit companies that would pay rent, as well as provide the zone developer with equity positions in each company recruited. Other innovative local governments include Hawaii County, Hawaii, and Alachua County, Florida. Hawaii County has developed an industrial site for the use of companies that process green waste and FOGs (Fats, Oils and Greases) into new biological products. The County has issued an RFP for companies that would use the public facility. In Alachua County, 300 acres adjacent to the current county solid waste facility have been purchased for the development of an ecological industrial park. The Gainesville Chamber of Commerce is assisting the county in recruiting new companies as well as helping existing recycling companies expand.
There are many companies out there that meet these few simple requirements for safe and profitable investment. Many companies are open to and often more than willing to partner with local non-profit community development organizations. These joint ventures open up additional sources of project financing.
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From http://www.grrn.org/zerowaste/twelve_categories.html ...
"The Twelve Master Categories of Recyclable Materials"
By Daniel Knapp, Ph.D. & Mary Lou Van Deventer
Designing a comprehensive recycling system requires a discard composition study. To do the study, one must observe and record what is being tossed out. Categories become important at this stage, because watching the variety of things dumped at a landfill can be overwhelming.
To pull order out of the chaos, similar things must be grouped together. But the category list is crucial; a study will see only what its categories provide for. Inadequate categories will leave a lump of unidentified residue called "miscellaneous" or "garbage." The list has to be big enough to cover everything, and small enough to be useful.
Different sizes of lists are possible, depending on one's idea of what will ultimately happen to the discards. Composition studies for incinerators often have only two categories: burnable and nonburnable. A study for a garbage composting plant might only use four of five.
How many categories are best for a total recycling system? It turns out there are twelve. (The examples after the category names are intended to suggest expansion; they are not limits by any means.)
Reusable goods, including intact or repairable home or industrial appliances; household goods; clothing; intact materials in demolition debris, such as lumber; building materials such as doors, windows, cabinets, and sinks; business supplies and equipment; lighting fixtures; and any manufactured item or naturally occurring object that can be repaired or used again as is.
Paper, including newsprint; ledger paper; computer paper; corrugated cardboard; and mixed paper.
Metals, both ferrous and nonferrous, including cans; parts from abandoned vehicles; plumbing; fences; metal doors and screens; tools; machinery; and any other discarded metal objects.
Glass, including glass containers and window glass.
Textiles, including nonreusable clothing; upholstery; and pieces of fabric.
Plastics, including beverage containers; plastic packaging; plastic cases of consumer goods such as telephones or electronic equipment; films and tires
Plant debris, including leaves and cuttings; trimmings from trees, shrubs, and grass; whole plants, and sawdust.
Putrescibles, including animal, fruit, and vegetable debris; cooked food; manures; offal; and sewage sludge.
Wood, including unreusable lumber; tree rounds; and pallets.
Ceramics, including rock; tile; china; brick; concrete; plaster; and asphalt.
Soils, including excavation soils from barren or developed land; and excess soils from people's yards.
Chemicals, including acids; bases; solvents; fuels; lubricating oils; and medicines.
Estimated and Actual Percentages of Recyclables in the Total Discard Supply
From incomplete empirical studies and countless unsystematic real world observations, we can build up a composite picture of the way the twelve master categories are probably related. This is a best guess and is not accurate for any specific locality, but it is still quite useful because it provides an overview showing that although discards viewed en masse are chaotic and physically overwhelming, they are nevertheless finite and can be accounted for.
Percentage of Recyclables in Discards
25\% Plant Debris
10 \% Wood
5\% Reusable goods
1989 Daniel Knapp and Mary Lou Deventer.
Excerpted from Total Recycling: Realistic Ways to Approach the Ideal.
This generic chart lets us make these big and very useful observations: Just two categories, paper and plant debris, make up 50\% of the total discards.
About 85\% of the discards are organic, carbon-based compounds.
The original 'Earth Day' recycling focused on post-consumer cans, bottles, and newsprint. We have not achieved total success in these categories - really subcategories - but if we did, that would give us a recycling rate somewhere between 15\% and 25\%.
From an entrepreneurial point of view, the current public preoccupation with plastics recycling obscures much more viable business opportunities with bigger potential impacts. Reusable goods, plant debris, soil, ceramics, putrescibles, and textiles can be harvested much more easily and they represent 56\% of the total, compared to plastic's 7\%.
Had the early recyclers concentrated on reusable goods - the single most valuable category per ton of the twelve - they could have tapped into a financial resource that would have stabilized and underwritten their losses elsewhere without diminishing the environmental impact of their efforts. Reusable goods are equal in volume to glass and metal, and salvaging them conserves the manufacturing energy embodied in them.
No fully operational twelve-category recycling system is currently up and running anywhere at this time. But for every one of the master discard categories, there are recycling enterprises somewhere reliably disposing of all or parts of the supply.
Recycling Reusables With Urban Ore
Just before the Berkeley landfill died, it gave birth to Urban Ore, Incorporated. Urban Ore was originally the title of a research proposal written to the National Science Foundation. We wanted to study the feasibility of digging some test holes in the landfill, recovering what we could for recycling, and composting the rest. What we were really after was not materials are all, but more space to fill while we developed a big, comprehensive recycling system on the landfill surface.
We wanted to extend the life of the landfill. The funding never came through, though, so we had to stop thinking of ourselves as scientists in lab coats. We adopted a new identity as urban scavengers.
In the wild and woolly environment of the dump, just surviving from one day to the next was a major feat. We went after reusable goods because they had more survival value than anything else. When we wanted tools, we found them in the dump. When we wanted clothes, we found them, too. When we wanted money, we sold the things we found: scrap metals, building materials, furniture, equipment, books, toys. We learned the salvage trade by trial and error, and by necessity.
We learned business so we could become established, legitimate, and recognized. We passed a major city audit when the landfill closed on schedule, we were invited to be a part of the recycling system at the new transfer station. We even prevailed in a major battle with our host public works department over an incinerator they wanted to build.
That political victory was necessary to our survival because it protected our supply. Nevertheless, it cost a lot of effort and money, and it dug a gulf between our regulators and us that took years to bridge.
We've had our ups and downs, just like any other business. But overall, we've grown and prospered. Ten years later, Urban Ore generated over $600,000 per year selling reusable goods. It employs fifteen people at wages ranging from $8.00 to $12.00 per hour. Its employees enjoy a company-paid health plan. Customers include flea-market vendors, artists, realtors, house-restoration contractors, property managers, landlords, renters, collectors, students, newlyweds, movie and theater companies, and just about anyone else looking for bargains, surprises, and sometimes just ideas.
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"Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency: Inefficient,
Expensive & in Debt: Obligations, Costs Exceed 13 Other NY, Conn. Plants"
by Mary Beth Pfeiffer POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL MAY 10, 2009
The Dutchess County trash-burning plant needs millions from taxpayers to break even each year, costs 46 percent more to operate than 13 other plants in New York and Connecticut and has debts stretching years beyond all of them.
The findings come from a Poughkeepsie Journal analysis of the finances and functioning of the 22-year-old Town of Poughkeepsie facility on the Hudson River. In almost every respect, the waste-to-energy plant, which burns about 150,000 tons a year and generates enough electricity to power 10,000 homes, fares poorly when compared to other plants, the Journal found. One bright spot is that it meets state emission limits for seven key pollutants.
"This burn plant uses obsolete technology, and it's very expensive," said R. Stephen Lynch, a newly appointed board member of the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency, which oversees the plant. Lynch, a solid waste consultant who is administrator for two of the plants in the Journal's analysis, said the Dutchess facility has been "mismanaged from a financial and taxpayer point of view for many years."
The Journal inquiry was prompted by the plant's growing operating deficit, which the county is obligated to cover in the form of a subsidy or "net service fee." In 2001, the facility received $1.1 million in county support; by last year, the figure had more than tripled to $3.5 million. For 2009, the county has budgeted $6.3 million to cover agency deficits, which promise to continue and perhaps worsen as competition for trash intensifies in a slowing economy...the Dutchess plant produces about 50,000 tons of ash yearly, which is trucked to landfills...
The Dutchess facility - built with $40 million in bonds and a $13.4 million state grant - has been troubled virtually since the agency entered into a construction agreement with Pennsylvania Resource Systems Inc. in 1984. Pennsylvania went belly up in 1988 and construction was completed in 1989 by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Westinghouse operated the plant until 1998, when it sought to get out of its contract, and Montenay Duchess LLC, now Veolia Environmental Services Dutchess LLC, was hired to take over. The parent company of Veolia operates 10 waste-to-energy plants in the United States; its Dutchess contract expires in 2014.
Given the plant's cost and performance, any proposal for a new or expanded burn plant would likely be highly controversial. Shabazz Jackson, president of Greenway Environmental Services in Newburgh and a task force member, said, "It's not sustainable. We're seeing the technology, the mass-burn technology, nearing the end of its life."