Monday, March 06, 2006

Trashy Plan

In yesterday's NY Times the paper editorializes in favor of Mayor Bloomberg's solid waste plan. The paper continues to fail to understand the plan's total inadequacy to devise a single credible waste reduction strategy.

It is simply not enough to craft a "fair share" distribution of waste transfer stations whose sole merit is that more neighborhoods get to experience the pain of the siting of noxious garbage facilities. Ths Times, lost in the nuances of this debate, decides that the issue is NIMBY: "The not-in-my-backyard attitude is understandable. But that alone is no reason for one neighborhood to escape its responsibility."

Just so. The fact is that this is not what this should be all about and, quite frankly, the Times should do better than simply parrot the mayor's clever misdirection. When the paper says that the city's proposal would enable "most of the trucks" to come off of the street it has no idea what it is talking about. With no reduction in the amount of garbage generated truck traffic to local transfer stations continues unabated.

In addition, the Times has no discussion of the mayor's recycling proposals, the ones that the mayor has called "groundbreaking." The harsh fact is that the current SWMP is simply a real estate policy, one that already has a $1 billion price tag and the cost is still growing.

The editorial does make at least one good point about some critics of the mayor's plan: "So far its opponents have been short of real alternatives..." This is true of those folks fighting the Manhattan siting issue but is totally off-base when it comes to those of us who have been advocating the expansion of the use of food waste disposers.

The use of disposers would be the one method that would reduce the amount of waste generated and therefore trucked into the transfer station neighborhoods. In addition, the removal of food waste is also the single best method for the enhancement of recycling. Once putrescible waste is removed the rest of the materials, no longer contaminated, are more easily recyclable.

Entertaining the expansion of disposer use should also generate a re-evaluation of the need to construct so many of the proposed transfer stations. There should be no need if the level of garbage reduction begins to approach the percentage of food waste in the waste stream (over 25%). In addition, the transfer stations themselves could be converted into material recycling facilities (MRF's) and the noxiousness of their presence could be reduced.