Monday, June 26, 2006

Solid Waste Movement

The NY Times editorialized yesterday on the need for the City Council to adopt the mayor's SWMP with little or no tinkering: "Because the plan's placement of transfer sites hangs like a Caldor mobile, the City Council should adopt it without too much tampering."

What's troubling about the paper's view is its lack of emphasis on just how the city is going to "expand recycling to businesses," something that the Times thinks needs to be done. As it points out, "Ultimately the task of successfully managing trash will require not just burial or incineration, but reuse and reduction of rubbish as well."

Just so. However, isn't it incumbent of a solid waste plan to actually lay out some coherent methodology for waste reduction? This is totally missing in the city's elaborate siting plan. The sections on recycling are devoid of any useful proposal that would make anyone but the mayor's most ardent acolytes sanguine about the possibility of waste reduction.

And what about the 59th Street commercial waste transfer station?- something the Times tells us is "without question necessary for Manhattan, which produces 40 percent of business trash." The paper doesn't say just how the city is going to incentivize or, perhaps, force the private carters to divert waste to that transfer point from others that they are already using.

All of this is, of course, frustrating to us because of the myopia that exists around the one methodology, the installation of commercial food waste disposers, that could "expand recycling to businesses" and reduce rubbish as well. This is particularly true of Manhattan where food waste is a significant component of the commercial waste stream.

Without any real waste reduction strategy the city moves ineluctably towards a fiscal and solid waste nightmare. The Times, unfortunately, neglects to raise any questions about the escalating costs of disposal, costs that are exacerbated by reliance on questionable export-landfill destinations as well as on the failure of the city to reduce the amount of waste being transported.