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Penny wise?

Original post made by Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown, on Jul 15, 2009

Another Tuesday, another 3 trips of heavy duty diesels to pick up the divided waste streams.
It is time for some zero based evaluation of the philosophy that mandates this waste. The so-called dump site crisis, like many of the chain jerks we suffer, never was. LA has available a receptacle for the next 50 years in the abandoned Iron Mountain diggings. Groundwater contamination is a concern only where that aquifer is is a usable source. Biodegradability is a so what quantity. The pottery shards from 5ooo years ago did not biodegrade but so what; Civilization continues.
Like many, perhaps most of the feelgood restrictions on personal freedom of action, the time for compliance is given no value. In 3rd world countries, dump scavenging is a way of subsistence life - all we get for the effort dividing our waste is the feelgood of the fooled.

Comments (15)

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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2009 at 9:04 am

SteveU is a registered user.

You forgot to mention all the car trips to diverse locations dispose of stuff not allowed to be picked up by those 3 trucks.
Greenwaste has increased the allowed "Blue Cart" items, which is a good thing, but will require un-learning the old exclude list.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Let's see. You can't realistically mix everything together. It's not easy to separate grass clippings from cans, bottles, and newspapers.

In principle a single truck could be compartmented. However, there's a certain volume of material to be transported. You'll want to minimize the round trips because the trucks are productive when they're actually collecting. For a given number of trips you can haul 3 trucks worth of material in 3 trucks, 2 big trucks, or 1 really honking big truck. What's the most practical option for our streets?

Now let's consider how many dropoff destinations we have to accommodate. Each supertruck would have to visit each, unless we build a transfer/sorting station to move the stuff to other trucks that go to separate destinations. How cost-effective is that?

Interesting optimization problem.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I hope, for the profession, AnEng, you are not a manufacturing engineer. It would be trivial with vintage technology to better separate the waste stream than the current system does, but the first question is, why bother? I question whether the total value of the separated wastes is even a fraction of the cost of collection and, as I asserted without fear of rational contradiction, an onerous collective burden on the general population. Long before a real engineer thinks of how, she must first answer why.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2009 at 6:38 pm

"I hope, for the profession, AnEng, you are not a manufacturing engineer."

I hope, in my turn, that you are not a practicing engineer. Conclusions based on political ideology instead of objective analysis are not the way to design a bridge.

Any engineer knows that optimizing the cost-benefit ratio involves reducing costs while boosting benefits. I find it fun to objectively speculate on either. After all, somebody made the decision. Why not try it myself? It's the engineer's mind.

In my previous post I surmised the trades associated with the number of truck trips. The existing 3-trip model may well be optimum for the situation. However, neither of us has at our fingertips the hard information to analyze the net long-term ROI from selling the recycled materials, therefore I'll leave the data-free grousing over it to you politician types.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I challenged the benefit, but I am sure you can demonstrate them with what passes for green math. If you can find a political party that matches my concern for the maintenance of the structure, both physical and logical that make modern society possible I will consider belonging; neither of the major and none of the minor parties meet that criterion. Mix objectivism, General Semantics , and a bit of The Realist and you will see why politically I'm sleepin' out and far, tonight. The end of the month I enter my 35th year in private practice. Many of the common uses of computers in engineering, I helped pioneer. And I am not ashamed to sign my work


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2009 at 10:22 am

"what passes for green math."

That's a political term, not a scientific one. If that's the kind of work you've been signing it's understandable you're working for yourself.

Look, since your got all that time on your hands and no boss to bug you, why not get the data for Palo Alto's recycling operation and tell us objectively whether it's making or costing money.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:05 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

My opinions are free. I will quote a fee for an engineering study. I don't give it away, except my offer to the city, to donate the engineering of the addition of air conditioning to the Mitchel Park library, including the electrical system upgrade required, as long as the city paid for the work by canceling city attendance at out of town dog and pony shows, substituting teleconferencing. Green math is a philosophical term to define those assaults on our freedoms justified by exaggeration of harm and undervaluing the benefit of technology. If you consider it political, tell me the party. Carl Sagan, The state's higher education systems are in a financial bind, a bind that might have been alleviated had the original assignment of tidelands oil revenue to the system, and the drilling continued.I am ethically obliged to point out the foolishness and often venality of energy policies. It has taken generations of Rachel Carson, Ehrlich,
Sagan and Gore, et al,


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Posted by Walter's correct
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

The point is everyone in Palo Alto must sort waste (per changing rules) and bring three containers back and forth to the street every week, with no value to themselves or society at large.

Even if an organization can find a way to make money around this, it is the wrong thing to do if there is negative net benefit.

Many studies have shown the economic and environmental cost of processing bottles, cans, plastic, etc. for recycling outweighs the benefit, without counting the sorting and lugging by individual contributers.

Actually, I suspect the garden clippings sort is worth the trouble; once sorted, the decomposition seems fairly easy to manage.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

How much will private business pay for our waste stream? Put it out for bid.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

"My opinions are free."

Yes, and judging by what I've read, worth every penny.

"How much will private business pay for our waste stream? Put it out for bid."

Now you're talking. Hint: first find out how much it IS paying. It ain't the government buying those aluminum cans and scrap iron and plastic bottles.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2009 at 7:19 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"Yes, and judging by what I've read, worth every penny."
Judging?
Deduct the revenue from the mandatory deposits and see if the additional revenue [or, I suspect costs] from final disposal of the material makes business sense.
Did you ever study engineering ethics, in particular the ethics of challenging another engineer's work?


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

"Did you ever study engineering ethics, in particular the ethics of challenging another engineer's work?"

Only on the job. Any practicing engineer knows an engineer's work is always open to challenge. I challenge and get challenged every day at work. It's how errors get caught, especially attempts to substitute opinions for facts and analyses, whether deliberately or by oversight. They can be deadly either way.

In this case I am not challenging your work because you haven't shown any of it. Opinions are always fair game, however. Don't confuse the two.

"Deduct the revenue from the mandatory deposits and see if the additional revenue [or, I suspect costs] from final disposal of the material makes business sense."

Now you're talking. That's a good start on defining the problem. Keep going.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Mine was not just an opinion it was an engineering judgment based on the apparent circumstances. I need not reprove Ohm's laws. A simple showing of my error in my estimate would have been sufficient. It is somewone else's time, money and convenience that "recycling" involves, and so the burden of proof goes to the imposers. So far, no show except "Ain't I got the power?"


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm

" A simple showing of my error in my estimate would have been sufficient."

There has to be a simple showing of a factually traceable estimate first. I see none. Judgements based on apparent circumstances are for hippies, like, whatever feels good man.

"It is somewone else's time, money and convenience that "recycling" involves, and so the burden of proof goes to the imposers."

Did you ever try that argument, suitably modified, on your drill sergeant? Or a traffic cop?

Look, you could do Palo Alto residents a service by proving your assertions. It would be an easy task for any competent engineer. If the analysis supports your point I'm sure you'd show us all the details in headlines. You aren't doing that, therefore either you're not an engineer, or you've done the analysis and got the result you didn't like.

In the latter case, it is my turn to ask about engineering ethics -- of suppressing truth and promoting a contrary preconceived opinion.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Anonymously?


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