emerged as something of a consensus from discussion among
members and other attenders at a meeting of the Recycling Public
Advisory Council on Jan. 21. The idea of having at least the
beginnings of a program running by spring, 2005, as previously
discussed, may be fast fading.
state is ready for it, [but] we're losing momentum," said
Marlene Rayner, of the Sierra Club. "We can discuss it forever;
we have to set a deadline. ... We've already wasted a year."
Environmental activist Alan Muller, of Green Delaware, was more
caustic in his comments. He accused the governor-appointed
council of "a profound sell-out" for having agreed with the
Delaware Solid Waste Authority and the Department of Natural
Resources & Environmental Control to have the waste authority do
a feasibility study for a program.
Delaforum previously reported, preliminary results of the study
are due by late April or early May, but the agreement calls for
subjecting that draft to at least one public hearing in each of
the counties before being put into final form for submission to
Governor Ruth Ann Minner and the General Assembly.
agreement means no chance of [mandatory] recycling," Muller
said. "Anyone who thinks anything profound is going to happen
... are kidding themselves."
disclosed that the natural resources department has pushed back
its timetable for adopting a regulation banning grass and other
yard waste from landfills. An initial gathering of an advisory
committee, originally scheduled for mid-January, has been
postponed pending the outcome of the waste authority study.
Noting that "multiple stakeholder meetings will be necessary to
gain consensus," Secretary John Hughes had worked back from the
January start to set December, 2004, as the goal for adopting
the regulation. The council previously had proposed that it go
into effect on April 1, 2005.
apparently delayed awaiting completion of the study is
introduction into the Assembly by Senator David McBridge of
proposed legislation to mandate recycling.
"Legislation like that is not something that is going to pass in
two weeks," council chairman Paul Wilkinson said. "It doesn't
look like it will be done this legislative year." The Assembly
adjourns at the end of June.
Canzano, who represents the waste authority on the council, said
that the study is on track to meet an April completion date. It
is being done partly within the agency and partly with the use
of consultants. In any event, he said he will be able to provide
some preliminary information to the council by its next monthly
aside, the discussion raised the likelihood that mandatory, or
even voluntary but organized, recycling isn't as much of a
proverbial 'no-brainer' outside a relatively small circle of
dedicated practitioners as one might think.
4,000 customers and, with all the press [the issue] has gotten,
I've only gotten one call about it," said Deborah Smedley, of
Delaware Sanitation, a trash-hauling firm.
said that legislation is necessary if there is to be any chance
of reaching the stated goal of a 30% recycling rate, but the
biggest hurdle in front of "getting from wanting to recycle to
[actually] recycling" is cost.
said Steve Masterson, of Waste Management of Delaware, a large
trash-hauling firm, is the primary reason legislators will move
cautiously on the issue and probably shy away from it completely
in an election year.
"Everybody wants to do it (recycle), but when we go for
legislation these issue are going to crop up," Canzano said.
issue raised at the meeting was the effect a mandatory program
will have on smaller companies in the trash-hauling business,
especially if the program is based on establishing franchise
districts served by a single hauler.
do it by competitive bid, there is no way I can outbid Waste
Management or B.F.I.," Smedley said. "They won't have any
competition." B.F.I. is another large company operating in
position paper presented to the council, Alice Jacobsohn, of the
Maryland-Delaware Solid Waste Association, a trade organization
of smaller firms in the business, argued that "consumers prefer
the freedom of choice" among collection firms and that
competition on that basis holds prices at reasonable levels.
"When competition does not exist, taxpayers are forced to pay
more money for services they have little or no control over,"
the paper said.
mandatory recycling poses yet another issue, the council was
told. It is common practice now for customers to dispose of
forbidden and even dangerous material with their ordinary trash.
waste is banned from landfills and hauling firms therefore
refuse to take it, "you're going to see an awful lot of grass
dumped by the side of the road," Masterson said.