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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zero waste update below; join Shabazz Jackson for Rhinebeck Town Hall forum on this Weds. 5:30 pm!...

Hi all...

Recently someone ("a little birdie", as they say) gave me the idea that perhaps more could be done with 177 acres of Rhinebeck town property at transfer station at Stone Church Road (perhaps something town taxpayers might be able to make some money off of while helping to move the town and region towards a more zero-waste approach to solid waste management and resource recovery) I had a conversation recently Shabazz Jackson of Greenway Environmental Services-- and he's interested...

[You may recall front-page article about Shabazz in Poughkeepsie Journal last April 3rd (2008) on great food-waste composting operation in Poughkeepsie using materials from Vassar and Marist to produce extremely valuable compost in high demand at non-odor facility (Vassar Farm); see; ; ; ; ; .]

Shabazz will also be main speaker at forum at Rhinebeck Town Hall at 80 E. Market St. on Weds. June 24th 5:30 pm-- on how much $$$ could be saved with local and county move towards zero-waste, along with other cost-savers noted in last post...


[also see -- sign on; dozens from around county signed on so fa!r]

And-- in case you didn't know-- next mtg. of Green Ribbon task force re: solid waste management will be Tues. June 23rd at 4 pm (in same place, on sixth floor of County Office Building at 22 Market St. in Poughkeepsie)-- you're all invited!...

[that Aug. 1st deadline for us to formulate response to four questions posed to us looms 'round corner]

[recall-- zero waste was at the top of last year's special Earth Day Newsweek "10 Fixes for the Planet" article by Anne Underwood (4/14/08)-- see: ]

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Some preliminary notes here to consider as we ponder how to answer four questions posed to us:

1. Recommendations for development of a comprehensive plan for the management of the county's solid waste disposal needs.

-- follow example of Tompkins, Rockland, and Onondaga counties here in NYS and Central Vermont, San Francisco, Austin, Nova Scotia, and other communities across the U.S. moving to zero-waste
(as NYSDEC's Resa Dimino and Terry Laibach have recently strongly recommended to us)
[see: ; ; ]

2. Complete a review of the need and feasibility of continuation of the Resource Recovery Agency.

[question: how have counties without Resource Recovery Agencies been doing?...phase out ours?]

3. Develop and outline options for the elimination of the RRA's annual “net service fee” charged to the County.

-- Cut back county subsidy of RRA to level of bare-bones funding necessary to run operations efficiently-- equivalent to RRA's in other counties; as Steve Lynch has pointed out, other RRA's are much more streamlined and cost their counties much less.   Recall-- the Poughkeepsie Journal reported May 10th that, "The Dutchess County trash-burning plant costs 46 percent more to operate than 13 other plants in New York and Connecticut. In almost every respect, the waste-to-energy plant, which burns about 150,000 tons a year and generates enough electricity to power 10,000 homes, fares poorly when compared to other plants, the Journal found. While the Dutchess plant receives a multimillion-dollar county subsidy every year - one that's grown 250 percent since 2001 - seven other facilities are self-sufficient, operating almost entirely on the sale of electricity and trash-dumping fees. The Dutchess facility receives that money and then some. In 2008, it brought in $11.1 million in "tipping," or dumping, fees and $4.2 million in electricity revenues - but still needed a $3.5 million county subsidy to break even. The subsidy added $24.50 to each ton of trash burned, bringing the plant's total per-ton processing fee to a little less than $102. The 13 other plants averaged $70 a ton. As significantly, Dutchess' cost will likely rise about a fifth this year. Westchester County's plant, for example, costs $72 to burn a ton of waste in 2008; with its subsidy, the Washington plant cost $75. Though older than 12 other plants, the Dutchess plant has debt extending years beyond every other facility in the two states. Among the 14 plants, four have paid or will pay their debt by the end of 2009, six more will be debt-free by 2019, as will three more by 2023. The Dutchess plant's debt extends to 2027-- with $49 million in bond payments remaining. In 2001, the facility received $1.1 million in county support; by last year, the figure had more than tripled to $3.5 million. For 2009, the county has budgeted $6.3 million to cover agency deficits, which promise to continue and perhaps worsen as competition for trash intensifies in a slowing economy."
[from "Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency: Inefficient, Expensive, and in Debt" by MB Pfeiffer ]

-- The Poughkeepsie Journal also reported May 31st that, "The last six Dutchess County budgets have included $5.4 million more in subsidies than the county's trash-burning agency actually used, raising questions about the agency's and county's fiscal planning. From 2003 to 2008, the county budget included $17.9 million to subsidize the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency, which operates a money-losing burn plant in the Town of Poughkeepsie. But during those years, the agency ended up needing only $12.5 million in county-guaranteed subsidies, according to county and agency figures analyzed by the Poughkeepsie Journal.  The Journal reported this month the agency's trash plant was the most expensive to operate, on a per-ton basis, among 14 such plants in two states and its debt extends years beyond all of them...The Legislature wanted to reduce Steinhaus' $6.3 million appropriation to $1.6 million, with the intention of revisiting the issue in six months and allocating more money if needed, according to Higgins' assistant Fred Knapp."
[from "Resource Recovery Agency: Padded Budgets or Solid Plans?" by Mary Beth Pfeiffer: ]

4. Develop recommendations for the elimination of disposal waste in the County, including but not limited to; expanded recycling efforts which should encompass education and enforcement efforts and possible incentives, options for the creation of energy and reusable products from disposal waste and identify methods and incentives to encourage and create “green collar” jobs aimed at disposing the County's solid waste in an environmentally sound manner.

As Institute for Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman has suggested, the county should help facilitate the creation of an eco-industrial resource recovery park to create jobs recycling current resources that are disposed of-- food waste, fats, oils, greases, glass, electronic scrap, mattresses, and construction and demolition debris (as Alachua County in Florida and Hawaii County have smartly moved to do).

[note-- beautiful thing about this suggestion is that folks at the incinerator don't even want these types of materials being sent to them-- so that-- aside from questions re: burn plant, we should move on these; even G.O.P. Co. Leg. Rob Weiss indicated to me he's real excited about this possibility for Dutchess!]

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On that note-- I recently received this pertinent letter below Saturday from ILSR President Neil Seldman:

[Gary Liss, Richard Anthony, Jim Frey, Michael Huls, Jeffrey Morris are top U.S. zero-waste consultants]

Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2009 02:03:08 -0400
Subject: follow up memo
From: Neil Seldman
To: Joel Tyner
Cc: Michael Huls , Jeffrey Morris ,
Richard Anthony , Gary Liss , Jim Frey

To; Joel Tyner, Chair, Environment Committee, Dutchess County, NY Legislature
From: Neil Seldman, ILSR
Re; Response to Comments
Date 7 June 2009

After my presentation at the meeting of the Committee, I was asked what might be the fastest way to raise the funds needed for a 'best practices' or 'recycling and economic development' analysis which I outlined in my talk.

One possibility is a temporary surcharge of $1 per ton on all waste delivered to the incinerator. Within  four months you will have  such a study. This will be essential for good decision making. The Legislature could also apply for stimulus funds as outlined in the DEC letter distributed in the meeting. Note the June due date for applications. The two sources can be combined, as the surcharge funds can be used to leverage stimulus and other federal and state funds. I suggest that the surcharge be sunset after the funds for the study are obtained. Of course, such a surcharge could be one of the tools suggested by the recycling and economic development analysis.

The Legislature could put an RFP immediately after establishing the surcharge funding mechanism. I suggest that the following companies be contacted with regard to an RFP:

Huls Environmental
Sound Resource Management
Liss and Associates
Anthony and Associates
Resource Recycling Systems

See CCs for contact information.

ILSR would not respond to such an RFP as we prefer to be independent advisers to you and the Environment Committee.
Neil Seldman
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
927 15th Street, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
202 898 1610 X 210

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Twelve More Specific Zero-Waste Recommendations for Dutchess County Legislation/Infrastructure:

1. Dutchess County should set a goal of 70% recycling rate by 2012 and a 90% recycling rate by 2025 (as in Los Angeles; San Francisco was actually at a 70% waste diversion rate already last year and has established a 90% waste diversion rate by 2025; Oakland has cut the amount of trash it sends to landfills by 60% since 1990; Vermont, Austin, Nova Scotia, and other communities as well, as Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman and many others have pointed out across U.S.).
[see: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ]

2. Dutchess County should create at least one resource recovery park to help create green jobs recycling 100% of our solid waste-- paper (25%), plant debris (25%), wood (10%), plastics (7%), reusable goods (5%), ceramics (5%), putrescibles (fats/oils/greases/animal/fruit/vegetable debris: 5%), glass (5%), metals (5%), soils (3%), textiles (3%), chemicals (2%)-- as in California, Florida, and Hawaii, and along the lines of what the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange has long done with reusables.
[see: ; ; ; ; ]

3. Dutchess County should invest $50,000 (out of a $400 million annual county budget and/or from new federal stimulus funding) in commissioning an expert report from the DC-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance on how "a new approach to solid waste management could save $10 million annually for government, households and businesses in Dutchess County-- that new approach being resource management, which focus on recovering valuable materials for processing and resale to industry and agriculture-- this new system to be in place within 3-5 years generating jobs, new small businesses and expanded tax base for Dutchess": according to Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman.
[see: ]

4. Dutchess County should mandate that all waste haulers and municipalities/transfer stations implement a pay-as-you-throw policy and incentivize recycling and composting instead of incineration and landfilling (as in San Francisco and over 7000 other communities across the U.S.).
[see: ; ; great contacts for businesses here: ]

5. Dutchess County should ban organics from being accepted as trash at our county incinerator, transfer stations, or by waste haulers, as in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Nova Scotia-- and mandate that food waste be collected separately by waste haulers and by municipalities/transfer stations-- including at supermarkets, as in Pennsylvania (and curbside in villages/cities-- as in Onondaga and Tompkins counties, Seattle, Boulder, Cambridge, San Francisco).
[ ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ]

6. Dutchess County should mandate that recycling bins be placed next to all trash receptacles (as already at local train stations, colleges, in some county buildings, and in Santa Barbara County).
[ ; ]

7. Dutchess County should ban electronic waste from being accepted as trash at transfer stations and across the county-- as already in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Arkansas-- and enforce a ban on recyclable construction demolition and debris from incineration and landfilling (as Massachusetts proposed in 2001 in its Solid Waste Management Plan).
[see: ; ]

8. Dutchess should mandate only see-through plastic bags used for trash (as in Omaha, NE; Jonathan Smith suggestion), and should accept plastic bags for recycling (as Westchester began doing in April).
[see: ; ]

9. Dutchess County should enact a local level of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky's statewide Environmentally Sound Packaging Act legislation (A.4109)-- and mandate that within five years all packaging for products sold in the county sold have at least 50% post-consumer recycled content.
[see: ; ]

10. Dutchess County should stop toxins from entering our waste stream to begin with-- by banning BPA in baby bottles and baby feeding products (as Suffolk County just moved to do in March)-- by banning
polystyrene (styrofoam) in county offices, departments, and agencies-- as in Rockland County, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and over 90 other communities across the U.S.-- by banning PVC in consumer packaging (as California is considering)-- by banning products with persistent bioaccumulative toxins from Dutchess County offices, departments and agencies (as Erie County has done)-- by greatly limiting the concentration of hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, flame retardants PBB and PBDE in electronic and electrical products sold in Dutchess County (as Europe did in 2006; U-Mass's Lowell Center for Sustainable Production found alternatives for toxins)-- and by using sustainable plastics whenever possible instead of toxic plastics (as in Boulder, Seattle, San Francisco).
[see: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ]

11. Dutchess County should enact a tax on hazardous waste (as in Vermont)-- assessed on generators when waste is shipped, or when facilities recycle, treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste-- based on quantity and if destined for recycling, treatment, or land-disposal.
[see: ]

12. Dutchess County should shut down its incinerator by 2014 (contract w/Montenay/Veolia runs out then); besides costing county taxpayers 425% more this year than it did just three years ago, our county incinerator emits 3700 tons of carbon emissions into our air every year, hastening global warming
(Austin is saving $100 million with new zero-waste approach; Detroit as well after closing incinerator).
[see: ; ;
also: ; ; ]

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Recall ...

Feb. 20th: Self reliance expert promotes recycling, waste reduction over landfilling [incineration]

POUGHKEEPSIE – The president of the non-profit Institute for Local Self Reliance told audiences in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh Thursday that the way to bring down the use of landfills is to expand recycling, waste reduction, building deconstruction and related fields. Neil Seldman of Washington, DC spoke to audiences at Vassar College and Newburgh Free Library and said federal stimulus money could help grow this technology, create new jobs and increase recycling. “We think if the federal government matches local spending with about $10-$20 billion, the transition from our current of recycling, which is 33-34 percent nationally can be increased to 75 percent within three to five years,” he said. Seldman met with Dutchess legislators Joel Tyner, Barbara Jeter-Jackson and James Doxsey who agreed that if more jobs could be created and recycling increased, it would be a win-win for the economy and society.

Thanks a ton again to all who turned out for Neil Seldman's Feb. 19th and 27th Poughkeepsie talks organized by yours truly with Vassar Sustainability Committee folks Lucy Johnson and Jeff Walker-- Rockland County Environmental Committee Chair Connie Coker, Jonathan Smith, Laurie Husted of Bard's Environmental Program, David Dell of Sustainable Hudson Valley, Manna Jo Greene of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Allison Morrill Chatrchyan of Cornell Cooperative Extension's Environmental Program, Patricia Zolnik of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Michelle Leggett of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, Co. Leg. Jim Doxsey (and Co. Leg. Barbara Jeter-Jackson earlier), Rhinebeck Village Boardmembers Barbara Kraft and Svend Beecher, Dave Petrovits of Recycling Crushing Technology, Vassar Economics Professor Bill Lunt, environmentalists extraordinaire Marie Caruso, Nancy Swanson, and Tom Baldino, Richard Dennison, Fred and Alice Bunnell, and Cary Kittner, Vassar students Katherine Straus, Anna Weisberg, Nadine Souto, and Susan Unver, and Damon and Stephanie Lewis, Mary Schmalz, Margaret Slomin, Chris Wimmers, Patrick and Liz Noonan, Amanda Adams, Caitlin Zinsley, Peter Prunty, Chris Eufemia, Allie Chipkin, Jamie Roderick, Sarah Womer, Frank Haggerty, Frankie Mancini, et. al.

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Ten More Reasons Why Dutchess County Should Go Zero-Waste:

Fact #1: "More than two thirds of the materials we use are still burned or buried, despite the fact that we have the technical capacity to cost-effectively recycle, reuse, or compost 90% of what we waste."
[from -- June 2008 report from ]

Fact #2: "Over 30 tons of waste is produced for every ton of product that reaches the consumer, and then 98% of those products are thrown away within six months. The US generates more waste per capita each year, while available landfill capacity diminishes. American consumers dispose of approximately 133,000 computers every day." (from Steve Attinger: "Extended Producer Responsibility")
[see: ]

Fact #3: Dutchess taxpayers spent $1,167,271 on "Solid Waste" (incineration) in 2006, $5,005,364 last year on this as well (in 2008), and are to spend $6,330,612 on this in 2009-- if status quo holds on this.
Dutchess County's current Solid Waste Management Plan will expire in 2010, and its NYS Solid Waste Permit to operate the county incinerator will also expire in 2011; DEC requires adoption of new environmental Dutchess Solid Waste Management Plan; contract with burn plant is done in 2014.
[see: ]

Fact #4: "The following companies have saved through using Zero Waste strategies to reduce waste and improve efficiency-- Interface, Inc. in Atlanta has eliminated over $165M in waste-- Xerox Corporation in Rochester has had a Waste-Free Factory environmental performance goal since the early 1990's (criteria including reductions in solid and hazardous waste, emissions, energy consumption and increase recycling; this program resulted in a savings of $45M in 1998)-- Hewlett Packard in Roseville, CA reduced its waste by 95% and saved $870,564 in 1998-- and Epson in Portland, OR has reduced its waste to zero and has saved $300,000."
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Fact #5: Over 2,800 businesses in Japan have adopted Zero Waste as a goal, and 99% of them have already achieved Zero Waste to landfill. All the Zero Waste Businesses that we have documented have
saved money, reduced their liability, increased their operating efficiency, and reduced carbon footprint.
[ ; ]

Fact #6: The Institute for Local Self-Reliance/Teamsters goal of a national recycling rate of 75% would create two million jobs and save millions of tax dollars, as already more Americans work in the recycling industry than in auto industry, and Americans already pay $40 billion to $70 billion a year handling solid waste. [see ]

Fact #7: Dutchess County could create a track for good-paying union jobs as well in deconstruction-- as Neil Seldman and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has successfully done in Hartford and other cities across the U.S., working with AFSCME, Laborers International, Sheetmetal Workers, and Teamsters.
[see ]

Fact #8: "Significantly decreasing waste disposed in incinerators and landfills will reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent to closing 21% of U.S. coal-fired power plants. This is comparable to leading climate protection proposals such as improving national vehicle fuel efficiency. Indeed, preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting are essential to put us on the path to climate stability."
[ ]

Fact #9: "Incinerators emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, or oil-fired
power plants. Incinerating materials such as wood, paper, yard debris, and food discards is far from 'climate neutral'; rather, incinerating these and other materials is detrimental to the climate. By reducing waste creation and disposal, the U.S. can conservatively decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 406 megatons‡ CO2 eq. per year by 2030. This zero waste approach would reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of closing one-fifth of the existing 417 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. This would achieve 7% of the cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions needed to put us on the path to achieving what many leading scientists say is necessary to stabilize the climate by 2050."
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Fact #10: "By reducing waste generation 1% each year and diverting 90% of our discards from landfills and incinerators by the year 2030, we could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the U.S. and around the world. This waste reduction scenario would put us solidly on track to achieving the goal of sending zero waste to landfills and incinerators by the year 2040, the target established by the Urban Environmental Accords, which 103 city mayors worldwide have signed."
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