The Policy and Services Committee will be evaluating Palo Alto's Zero Waste "Operations Plan". This will be Tuesday at 7:30 PM at City Hall. This is the implementation element of a strategy set in 2005.
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