Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Troubles in the SWMP

According to yesterday's NY Times, Mayor Bloomberg's garbage disposal plans may be, well, in the dumps. The plan's problems devolve from the controversy surrounding the Manhattan aspects of the disposal methodology, particularly the use of two sites on the West Side and one on the East Side for waste transfer stations. As the paper reports:
"But some environmental advocates are worried that the new obstacles will not only delay its adoption and execution, but compel the city to abandon some elements entirely."
What's tricky here is the interdependence of all of the parts of the disposal plan. Without the Manhattan sites everything else in a "fair share" methodology is put at risk. This is put best by the NRDC's Mike Izeman:
"Bloomberg won the land use battle, but the larger solid waste war--if that's not too strong a word--between the Council and the administration is still unresolved."
All of which calls to mind some of our comments on the deficiencies of the city's proposal. The concept of fair share is only good policy if the overall disposal plan is progressive at reducing the amount of garbage the city generates in the first place. Without this component, fair share only means that everyone is made to suffer equally.

The SWMP as it is presently constructed fails miserably in the area of waste reduction. That is what makes the issue of food waste disposers so compelling. This methodology, if implemented properly, has the potential to increase the level of waste reduction and to obviate the need for the number of transfer stations proposed in the current SWMP.

The critics of the use of disposer remind us of the old axiom about democracy: "It's the worst political system, except for all the others." As the leading experts on their use have pointed out, when a comparison of disposers with the other disposal methodologies is undertaken, this method out performs all of the others on both environmental as well as economic grounds. And, given the absence of realistic waste reduction strategies in the SWMP before the Council, the disposer approach becomes essential.

It is time for the City Council to step up, challenge the mayor's faulty assumptions, and devise a better plan. Food waste disposers should be a significant component of such a revised SWMP.