Undertaking the study, when coupled with the fact that the
department has yet to determine whether the waste authority's
application to expand the Cherry Island Marsh landfill is
technically 'complete', means that public hearings on that
controversial project cannot begin until late summer at the
earliest or, more likely, next autumn, John Blevins, director of
the department's air and waste management division, told
consultant's report and ensuing recommendations will become part
of the application-review process, he said. The preamble of an
agreement among its three sponsoring parties cites a 2003
Assembly resolution which calls for delaying a permit to expand
the landfill "until waste reduction and curbside recycling
alternatives are pursued." The theory behind that holds that
removing recyclable material from the waste stream could
significantly extend the life of the landfill's present
immediate question, chairman Paul Wilkinson told a meeting of
the gubernatorial advisory council on Jan. 4, is whether
Delawareans can make the leap from relatively low-key voluntary
recycling to a full-fledged and mandated system in a single
bound. "What happens if [that] doesn't take place?" he said.
without a fall-back plan to gradually scale up the present
effort, he declared, "There comes a time when you stop talking
about something and get to the down-and-dirty details."
evidently will happen under terms of the joint agreement giving
the solid waste authority the lead role in determining how best
to implement a program for curbside pickups of recyclable
material from residents and small business establishments and a
marketing study to determine whether the collected material can
be sold to defray at least some of the cost of the program.
called the special meeting of the advisory council to obtain its
authorization for him to sign the tripartite agreement, already
signed by Secretary of Natural Resources John Hughes and N.C.
Vasuki, chief executive officer of the waste authority. The
authorization was voted unanimously after a long discussion
about what apparently was a parallel-track approach.
acknowledged that forging the agreement has been in the works
for about six months, but the document signed by the other
officials in December was not publicly disclosed nor even made
available until the advisory council's meeting.
however, that advisory council approval of the agreement
presupposes that the waste authority keeps the council informed
about the status of the study at each of the council's monthly
meetings until it is completed. "I want to make sure that we
don't have information that disappears only to pop up over there
at some later time," he said.
the ranking natural resources department official at the Jan. 5
meeting, maintained there was noting nefarious about reaching
the agreement. "All this document (the agreement) said is who's
going to take the lead" in coming up with specific data upon
which the legislature and the agencies that will have to
implement and enforce a mandatory program can act.
other things, that will expand on the work done by a consulting
firm hired by the advisory council in 2003 to look at the
feasibility of more stringent recycling in New Castle Count. "We
have to look hard at the numbers [and] someone has to write the
legislation," he said. "It's an agreement to make happen what
was going to happen anyway."
Blevins added, tagging the likely result a mandatory program is
misleading. "Mandatory implies enforcement; what we want to do
is make it (recycling) easy so that more people will do it
voluntarily," he said.
present, public recycling in Delaware involves residents
depositing materials into 'igloos' at 145 locations and 625
households in Brandywine Hundred who pay the waste authority a
monthly fee to have their recyclables collected. The authority
is now talking with Newark officials with a view to adding about
500 more subscribers to the pick-up program. The 2003 study
commissioned by the advisory council estimated that about 14% of
recyclable residential waste generated in New Castle County is
being recycles. A minimum goal is to expand that to at least
recycling would require that householders remove certain
materials -- cans, glass or paper, for instance -- from their
trash and put it into separate containers for collection. An
unresolved question is whether all recyclables could go into a
single container or whether different materials would have to be
segregated into two or more separate containers. A rule of thumb
is that the greater the degree of separation, the more valuable
the salvaged material becomes, according to Pat Canzano, the
waste authority's chief operating officer and its representative
on the advisory council.
Raynor, of the Sierra Club, took strong objection to Blevins's
account of how the agreement was reached. "How come it's been
going on for six months and we're just hearing about it now? We
didn't know anything was going on," she said. The advisory
council was established as the official public conduit by
executive orders initially issued by former governor Thomas
Carper and renewed by Ruth Ann Minner, the present chief
executive, Reynor pointed out. Raynor is not an appointed member
of the council, but is a participating observer at its sessions.
agreement does specifically provide that the recommendations to
emerge from the study and presented to Governor Minner and the
Assembly will be subject to review at "public meetings" with at
least one to be held in each county.
said after the meeting that there should be no problem adhering
to the 120-day timetable specified in the agreement. Submitting
a report by early May would give the Assembly time to act before
it adjourns at the end of June.
it will act is, of course, another question. While there is
considerable support for mandatory recycling among both
lawmakers and some segments of the public, there is the matter
of inertia when it comes to changing long-followed practices. In
a more practical vein, it would probably require such things as
establishing area franchises for waste haulers, a proposition
that the smaller firms in the business have resisted.
said the issue of how a mandatory system will be financed
remains a major one that should not be glossed over.
"Legislators are not only going to want to hear the rosy side;
they'll also want to hear the downside," he said.