Palo Alto Zero Waste Operation Plan Discussion
Original post made by Bob Wenzlau on Mar 12, 2007
Zero waste is the next paradigm in approaching our solid waste management efforts -- it seeks to avoid land disposal (land fills) through a coordinated effort to cause reduction of generation, reusables, and recovery. The plan addresses the industrial, commercial and residential sectors.
While the tenants of Zero Waste are strong (as embodied in the policy), when the action gets defined in the "Operations Plan", my view is that the commitment has been watered down.
I wanted to re-introduce the topic to the community, and remind us of some of the questions at hand?
- What is the future of the drop-off recycling center? The plan seeks proposes a significant expansion -- I personally think "driving" to recycle is "dead", and should be replaced by curbside. This ties to new paradigms of global warming.
- How aggressive should the city be in "mandating" recycling? The plan invites a commitment to mandatory recycling, but postpones the commitment for 3 to 4 years. I believe that we should entertain this commitment now. I do not believe the "mandatory" forces folks to go to jail, but would be similar to consequences of excess irrigation during the drought.
- What can the city do to encourage waste reduction? This is a curious venue for government where it may wander into folks personal space: can government tell me what to buy? Yet many cities are now considering whether to ban certain plastics, and reduce excess packaging.
I wanted to introduce this because I have worried that the City is not fully reconciling the commitment to Zero Waste they have made. Some recent decisions have been made not to increase diversion of our waste at the regional processing center (SMART), that made me question the understanding. I do not believe this is an easy program to implement, but if we have made the commitment, we should follow through. We can be comforted that most of the expenditure for waste (resource) management come through an enterprise fund (meaning your refuse bill), and will not dilute resources from our city's general fund.
The City's Zero Waste efforts are seen on this web link: Web Link
on Mar 12, 2007 at 1:32 pm
Like so many of these brilliant ideas, zero waste assumes that the time and convenience of the individual is of no value. Government tends to be as cavalier with our time as it is with our money. Let's make a deal - If the government can find a buyer for sorted recyclables, and if the government will then agree to apply that revenue directly to reducing the garbage bill, o.k. - otherwise, put it in a box at the curb.
on Mar 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm
Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.
The economics (your billing rate) have always been key in my view to waste management. Palo Alto's landfill closes it doors in 2011, and other landfills are recognizing how they can gain top dollar selling disposal space to Palo Alto. The hauling cost rise and the toll gate charges rise. As such, efforts to reduce the waste will lead to putting money in your wallet, and that can't be lost on the process. Your refuse bill would be higher if you just haul the bin out, because it forces the city to pay the exorbitant fees. Our inspirations may be different, but we both like keeping the money in our wallets.
on Mar 12, 2007 at 8:08 pm
It is time to institute the excess express and haul out garbage by rail up to the Black Rock Desert. I believe several Northwest cities are hauling their garbage to the desert. This current practice of cosseting garbage like the crown jewels is nuts and is based on the ludicrous idea we are running out of dump space.
Some day we might even recognize that garbage and sewage is best macerated and dumped offshore, to restore the organics our dams have robbed the ocean of. You may believe that garbage sorting is an appropriate use of the people's time, I do not. In Great Britain they have garbage cops writing heavy tickets if you miss=sort. That will follow here unless we tell them no more.