2010 March 14: NY Dutchess County: Don’t incinerate, recycle
[first– don’t forget– if you haven’t yet already– join 47 other Dutchess residents signed on in support for Dutchess County to go zero-waste– creating green jobs, saving tax dollars, cutting carbon emissions, cleaning up local air quality– at this petition– http://www.petitiononline.com/zeroyes (click on "view current signatures" to see comments of support from dozens across our county for this)]
In case you missed it…
Last Sunday’s Poughkeepsie Journal reported the following on our county incinerator emissions:
[this below from "Sides Can’t Agree On Impact Of Burning" by Mary Beth Pfeiffer
[note: incinerator also creates literally 50,000 tons of toxic ash a year– trucked 100’s of miles to landfills]
Fact: Volatile organic chemical emissions literally tripled from 2002 to 2008– to 21 tons each year.
Fact: Particulate emissions more than doubled from 2002 to 2008– to two and a half tons each year.
Fact: Nitrogen oxide emissions increased from 2002 to 2008 from 155 tons to 167 tons each year.
Fact: Sulfur dioxide emissions were 37 tons in 2008– not a matter to be taken lightly.
Fact: Heavy metal emissions (e.g., mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium) were still 29 pounds in 2008.
Fact: Hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride emissions were 22 tons in 2008– not to be ignored.
Fact: Carbon monoxide emissions were still 82 tons in 2008– not a matter to be taken lightly.
[also– our incinerator puts out 3700 tons of CO2 annually too; see: http://carma.org/plant/detail/11553 ]
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Last Sunday’s Poughkeepsie Journal also reported the following as well:
[see: "Critics Rip Agency As Recycling Falters" by Mary Beth Pfeiffer
"The DCRRA now recycles only 4 percent of Dutchess’ 250,000 tons of garbage."
"An estimated 30,000 tons of paper alone go to the trash heap yearly, and, according to officials and reports, little is done to encourage recycling in the county."
"When waste recycled by private haulers is included, the county recycling rate is only 11 percent, about half the state rate, agency figures show."
"Currently, the agency recycles 10,000 tons of waste annually at its materials recovery facility while burning 144,000 to 155,000 tons at the waste-to-energy plant."
"The agency’s multimillion-dollar annual deficit – which by statute is paid by county taxpayers – has grown nearly sixfold since 2001 to a budgeted $6.3 million for 2009, and the agency won’t retire its debt on the 28-year-old plant until 2027, years beyond a dozen other plants surveyed by the Poughkeepsie Journal."
"Like the state’s master plan, the agency’s report endorses composting, which is seen as holding potential to recover organic-rich wastes – food is 17 percent of municipal trash – that impede waste burning and create greenhouse gases in landfills."
"Shabazz Jackson, president of Greenway Environmental Services in Newburgh, ran a food waste composting facility at Vassar College for eight years, producing about 10,000 cubic yards of topsoil a year from cafeteria and garden waste. The facility was not supported by Vassar or grants, said Jackson, a member of the legislative task force on trash. Nonetheless, he said, ‘we turned a profit every year.’"
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"Salvaging Dutchess County"
by Neil Seldman
President, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
[ http://www.ILSR.org ]
[note– this was published this week in The Hudson Valley News and The Daily Freeman; has also been submitted to The Poughkeepsie Journal as Valley Views]
Dutchess County, like several other US cities, is facing a financial dilemma because of budget overruns at its garbage incineration plant. This year the tab will be a surcharge of $6 million to residents and businesses. The tab is growing each year that the facility operates.
Some officials want to expand the facility to reach financial stability. This is a radical solution, one that is fraught with risks. The conservative approach would be to cut the losses right now—stop the hemorrhaging! Start investing in a sustainable system that now only reduces budget needs but also is the foundation for new jobs and small businesses and an expanded tax base. This is possible because through recycling and composting, value is added to the raw materials that flow through our hands daily, at work, home or play.
Markets are strong, especially for the materials that make up over half of the waste stream—organics matter and construction and demolition materials. Further, these markets are all local, within Dutchess County or those counties surrounding it. Composting, glass processing, mattress recycling and c and d processing are happening within 30 miles of Dutchess County.
What is needed is an industrial park in the county for these companies. In Alachua County (Gainesville), FL a 40-acre resource recovery park will create 200-300 direct jobs and an equal number of indirect jobs. In Alameda County (Oakland), CA, over the last 10 years 1,000 new jobs have been created since the county decided against a garbage incineration facility.
The financial comparisons are staggering: To rebuild the current 450 ton per day facility will cost the county hundreds of millions. A combined 500-ton per day recycling; composting and digestion (recovery of methane from food scraps) system will cost no more than $30 million.
The financial picture, the jobs picture and the tax base picture, make this decision a no-brainer. The decision also fits with one of the basic precepts of conservative political thought:
Citizens want their elected representatives today, to do what they would want them to do 10 years hence.
What is keeping Dutchess County from moving forward on this issue? The solid waste authority, which oversees the incineration, is vested in the old ways of doing things. They need a new business model. The Alameda County Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling Authority is such a model. This agency has invested in recycling, reuse and composting in government, community and private sectors with significant results. They are financed with a surcharge on garbage disposal in their county, which provides an investment fund for the Alameda Authority. This is the exact type of extra fee that Dutchess County will have to impose in order to pay the annual debt on its incinerator. Federal dollars for this transition are available.
County leaders have to come to grips with the mistakes of previous administrations. A financial strategy for the phasing out of the incinerator and implementation of sustainable recycling and composting is needed. It will be a measure of Duthess County officials’ skills, integrity and objectivity as to whether they can meet this challenge.
It all has been done before. Austin, Texas cancelled a garbage incinerator after they spent $22 million for construction. The city council realized that they could save over $100 million over the life of the plant, if they switched to recycling and composting. They did. The city is now on its way to implementing a zero waste system.
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Thanks to Mid-Hudson Sierra Club’s Joanne Steele and Beacon Conservation Advisory Council Chair Tom Baldino for each pledging $100 to bring Neil Seldman again to Dutchess County to update us on zero-waste best practices– please let us know if you can help!…(send your donations to us at 324 Browns Pond Road, Staatsburg, NY 12580)…
Also– stay tuned for details to come soon re:forum in Poughkeepsie with internationally known incineration expert Dr. Paul Connett!…(Connett and Seldman were quoted in last Sunday’s Poughkeepsie Journal; see above; both were also keynote speakers at the Nov. 2008 zero-waste conference in Albany– first one for New York)…
Connett is an internationally known burn-plant researcher and professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University who has traveled the globe doing penetrating analysis on the truth about just how polluting incinerators are, successfully shutting them down….
[again– Connett was also quoted in last Sunday’s paper:
Click on these links to see much, much more on great work he’s done across planet:
http://www.AmericanHealthStudies.org ; http://www.cank.org.uk/connett1.html ; http://www.clearnh.org/Docs/DrPaul.doc ;
Rationale/benefits of forums with Neil Seldman and Paul Connett:
— to help Dutchess taxpayers save tax dollars, create green jobs, clean air, cut carbon with zero-waste
[fact is (see much more on this below) that it’s always much less expensive to recycle/compost than it is to burn or bury MSW at incinerator or landfill; ILSR also has proof that recycling/composting creates literally ten times more jobs than incineration or landfilling; see details below re: incinerator pollution]
[as Institute of Local Self-Reliance website itself notes– "On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration"…(see: http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/recyclingmeansbusiness.html )]
Who needs to buy in:
— DCRRA, county legislators, county executive, municipalities, waste haulers, businesses, labor, environmental groups, taxpayers, et. al.
Timeline after forum(s) with Neil Seldman and Paul Connett:
[note this just below comes directly from Neil]
— ILSR’s approach:
— read all documents pertaining to solid waste management in the city/county
— meet with stakeholders to glean their concerns, interests, resources
— draft plan with step by step guidelines and recommendations incentives, governmenty procurement, hauler equipment and processing equipment, markets,small business potential, budget and implementation plan with time line; show best practices in action across the US
— get feedback from stakeholders
— prepare final plan
— conduct community and one on one meetings to review plan and next steps: show economic comparisons with landfill and incinerator.
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Neil also recently shared with us the following as well:
"The key to recycling is that it saves money over garbage; the prices on the market are an after-issue. The fact is that markets are there for recycling; material brokers will confirm this, and cities can get contracts for floor prices. It just costs less to recycle than dispose of materials as garbage. Trucks are lighter, payload better. It also allows garbage trucks to cover more houses per day and allows cities to eliminate garbage routes.
The latest Waste and Recycling News 1 Feb 2010 has these prices for NY region:
soft mixed paper $70 per ton
boxboard cuttings $72.50 per ton
de ink news $55 per ton
corrugated containers $110 per ton
White news blanks $175 per ton
sorted office paper $215 per ton
sorted white ledger $300 per ton
hard white envelope cuttings $445 per ton
aluminum 80 cents per lb
plastics HDPE 19 cents per lb
PET 13 cents per lb"
[see http://www.WasteRecyclingNews.com for more re: above; for more re: material brokers see: http://NewYorkRecyclingBrokers.com ; see http://www.RecycleNewYork.net ; for more re: floor prices for municipalities for materials to be sold for recycling see: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/tools/localgov/economics/processing.htm ]
And– check out these two gems Neil recently penned for E Magazine as well:
"Wasted Energy: Debunking the Waste-to-Energy Scheme"
"Recycling First: Directing Federal Stimulus Money to Real Green Projects"
[go to to "Waste to Wealth" at ILSR site for much, much more– http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/index.html ]
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Fact: For literally only 1/600th of the current $6.5M cost to Dutchess taxpayers to subsidize the DCRRA (about $6.5 million), the county could hire nationally known zero-waste experts like Neil Seldman, Gary Liss, Richard Anthony to prepare a $10,000 report on cost-saving, green-jobs zero-waste possibilities.
Fact: According to the EPA, 98% of wastestream in U.S. are recyclable, reusable, or compostable materials (Dutchess wouldn’t be too different from nat.’l ave.)– paper/paperboard (24%), food scraps (19%), plastics (18%), metals (9%), wood (8%), glass (7%), yard trimmings (7%), and textiles (6%).
[see: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/msw99.htm ; also Neil Seldman/ILSR PowerPoint]
Fact: According to Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, "Worcester (MA), Portland (OR), Seattle/King County (WA), Hawaii County, Oakland, and Los Angeles are all examples of communities that have rejected incineration and invested in recycling and composting, saving tax dollars as the costs of solid waste management have gone down."
[see http://www.ILSR.org ]
Fact: According to Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, "A zero-waste approach to resource recovery saves tax dollars because solid waste has been reduced in those communities by diverting materials to the private sector which hire workers, pay taxes, and expand the local tax base. For example, Oakland has created over 1000 jobs in the last decade as a result of a rejected incinerator there and invested in recycling and composting."
[see http://www.ILSR.org ]
Fact: "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 ]
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More rationale if you want it…
Fact: Our county incinerator doesn’t even want food waste, as it’s highly inefficient to burn (over 70% water; see http://www.Cool2012.com ).
Fact: Ithaca, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Cambridge, and communities across Vermont, North Carolina, Minnesota, Michigan, California have smartly moved towards zero waste with food-waste composting
[ 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 ]
Fact: "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." (fact– PoJo DID do apples-to apples comparison re: incinerators!)
[May 10th: "Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency: Inefficient, Expensive, and in Debt" (Pfeiffer)
[note– re: miracle of pay-as-you-throw– check out all the great info on this in this spring EPA bulletin–
http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/tools/payt/tools/bulletin/spring09.htm – http://www.WasteZero.com ; and– recall great news from B. Warren re: miracle happening in Ontario that we should be embracing here in Dutchess– the Ontario Environment Minister recently released a draft report on plans to make recycling there 100% EPR-based!…see much more on this here– http://www.hazmatmag.com/issues/ISArticle.asp?ntoken=NOCOOKIE (N. Seldman recommendation)]
If Nantucket can have 92% recycling/waste diversion rate– why not Dutchess?…(no reason at all!)…
Remember Oct. 19th NYTimes– "A New Recycling Strategy Is Catching On" by Leslie Kaufman; see:
Recall– last December our County Legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution drafted by yours truly and co-sponsored by Co. Leg.’s Pete Wassell and Jim Doxsey calling on our county’s Solid Waste Commissioner and Resource Recovery Agency to make our Green Ribbon Solid Waste Management Committee recommendations real…
[final report here– http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/assets/pdf/BK142669916.PDF ]
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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 again to Rhinebeck Village Boardmembers Svend Beecher and Barbara Kraft for comin’ out to this forum above last Feb. 20th– and everyone else 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), 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.
Also– ’tis true– I’ve actually gotten Northern Dutchess Hospital, the Baptist Home, and Fairgrounds all to make commitment to seriously consider food-waste composting as crucial step towards going fully zero-waste!…(see below– re: forums I co-hosted last July 29th and June 24th at Rhinebeck Town Hall with Shabazz Jackson and Josephine Papagni of Greenway Environmental Services).