go forward as if it were enacted," Richard Pryor, chairman of
the Delaware Solid Waste Authority's board of directors, declared
at a board meeting less than 24 hours after a bill sponsored by
Senator David McBride and Representative Joseph Miro expired in
the House Republican caucus during the waning hours of the 124th
goes according to plan, soon after the 125th convenes in January
it will receive a new bill which will define a statewide program
for collecting and putting to reuse several kinds of recyclable
material, establish an enforcement mechanism to achieve
compliance by just about every household and provide for a way
to finance it.
contrasts sharply with this year's relatively innocuous 'first
step' version. That would have just set a goal of diverting 30%
of residential solid waste from the state's three landfills by
July, 2008, and charged the waste authority, working in
conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control and the governor's Recycling Public
Advisory Council, to come up by the end of 2004 with
recommendations for doing so.
The waste authority remains committed to a collaborative effort
with the same two partners not only to do that voluntarily but
also to have the resultant plan embedded in law and regulation,
told Delaforum before the meeting on
July 1. N.C. Vasuki, its chief executive officer, added that the
authority will be ready once the program is in place to provide
the necessary services -- that is, if it is around to do so.
are agreed that one of the things that likely killed the
McBride-Miro bill was an 11th hour amendment filed by
Representative Stephanie Ulbrich who would have added "or its
successor agency" to a reference to the waste authority.
Ulbrich is the House chairwoman of the Assembly's Joint Sunset
Committee, which reportedly is considering whether the was
authority is to have a future.
Nevertheless, Pryor's and Vasuki's comments are particularly
significant because the waste authority is lead agency under a
tripartite agreement to produce a feasibility study and proposed legislation to
present to Governor Ruth Ann Minner, legislators and the
public by the end of December. That would seem to indicate that
whatever gets introduced into the Assembly in January will have
the governor's active support -- something which the McBride-Miro
bill did not have.
Although running about three months behind the timetable that
was set when the agreement was made last January, the authority
will have first drafts of reports on all the components of
card notice (above) said that Delaware Solid
Waste Authority directors would meet at the
agency's headquarters in Dover on July 1. They
met 55 miles away at the agency's northern
office near Holloway Terrace. An employee said
someone "made a mistake" when preparing the card
and that the 'official' notice of meeting,
published as a newspaper classified
advertisement and duly posted, was correct.
There were two notices posted at the northern
office. An undated one specified the Dover
location. The other, labeled as a changed one
and dated June 29, gave the correct location.
ready for the gubernatorial panel to begin considering at a
meeting later this month, according to Pasquale Canzano, chief
operating officer. The initial draft of proposed legislation has
already been distributed and was inconclusively discussed at the
council's meeting in June.
clear from that discussion and a limited amount of reaction from
outside of the council that, once you get past acceptance of the
30% reduction goal, all the key elements of the proposal are
controversial. The two which stand out most prominently are
provisions to cover the cost of collecting and processing
recyclables by "a service charge billed to the counties" and to
allow trash-hauling firms to bid on exclusive contracts to
collect recyclables in designated districts.
The draft legislation does not actually refer to incorporated
municipalities having to pay fees, but Mayors James Baker of Wilmington and
Donald Mulrine of Newport have already weighed in publicly with
objections on the grounds that those jurisdictions cannot afford
them. The alternative of adding manpower and equipment to enable
the existing municipal operation to pick up recyclables would be
even more expensive. County officials, who would have to pass the 'service
charge' on in the form of a tax or fee, aren't exactly overjoyed
by that prospect. Their argument is that having to pay for a
state program would amount to imposition of an 'unfunded mandate'.
authority is an autonomous self-supporting public agency. If it
were to undertake more extensive processing of recyclables than
it now does and to contract for collections, it probably would
require a state appropriation. The principal environmental
argument for recycling has to do with the sale of the material
for re-use. However, selling the material in what is said to be
a highly volatile market would not cover the collection and
processing costs, according to the authority. The feasibility
study will estimate the shortfall to be equivalent to between $4
and $5 a month per household.
Contracting to collect recyclables by district is being
presented as a compromise between setting up collection
districts in which a single successful bidder would have the
exclusive right to collect all trash and letting the present
competitive system, which prevails in most unincorporated areas
of New Castle County, handle recyclables as well as general
companies argue that anything but the latter would sooner or
later drive them out of business. There currently are 35 trash
hauling firms in the county with two of them, Waste Management
and B.F.I., reputedly controlling about 75% of the business.
micro side of potential objections to recycling is the presumed
inconvenience to householders who would have to prepare for two
trash collections and to sort recyclable material.
authority now operates a voluntary recycling collection service
in Brandywine Hundred and the Newark area and is about to extend
it to the 19806 postal zip code zone in Wilmington with a view
to having it operative throughout New Castle County by Sept. 15.
Subscribing households are charged $36 semiannually for the
basic service or $54 semiannually to include up to four bags a
week of grass clippings and other yard waste. Subscribers are
provided with a small reusable bin and three color-coded plastic
bags for sorting the waste.
waste, which makes up a significant portion of recyclable waste
now going to landfills, is an issue unto itself. The advisory
council and the natural resources department were considering
banning such material from landfills by regulation as early as
the spring of 2005. That currently is on hold pending dealing
with the topic as part of the comprehensive feasibility study.
much up in the air at this point is a method for achieving
compliance. Both the McBride-Miro bill and the waste authority's
draft legislation refer to "mandatory" recycling, but there are
some who question whether 'mandatory' and 'compulsory' are
necessarily synonymous. Not altogether facetious is the
inevitable humor about whether there should be a 'trash
jurisdictions avoid that by relying on public opinion,
compliance notices left on doors and, as a next-to-last resort,
leaving unseparated trash uncollected. Although legislation
usually specifies fines for noncompliance, such provisions are
seldom if ever used.
pointed out that both versions of recycling legislation speak to
"curbside recycling." While that obviously is meant to refer to
the place from which material is collected for recycling, he
noted that defining it in terms of curbs is anachronistic in
most of suburbia.
told Delaforum that the initial draft of the legislation is far
from being the final version. "We're going into this with
an open mind. ... It's fair to say that it will be
changed in many respects as the deliberative and consultative
process goes forward," he said. In addition to recommendations,
the final report "will also set forth [other] possibilities," he
not specific about what they might be, but did indicate that he considers Baker's concerns
about how to pay for a program legitimate. Pryor is director
of economic development in Baker's city administration.
tripartite agreement provides for subjecting the proposed report
and legislation to public hearings during the coming autumn in all three counties and
Wilmington before their final adoption by the three agencies.
endorsement of moving to a statewide recycling program was
voiced at the waste authority's meeting by Everett Bass,
Houston, Tex.-based vice president of Waste Management. He said
his firm supports recycling and is ready in Delaware "to
demonstrate how efficient and cost-effective we can be." His
attending the meeting was coincidental.
Wilkinson, chairman of the advisory council, later said he was
disappointed that the McBride-Miro bill did not survive. "I
thought it was a good starting point for the state on recycling
and would have added emphasis to what we are doing," he told
said said the waste authority supported the amended
version of the original measure which passed the Senate
unanimously. It had opposed the original version. The amended
version dropped a mandate that the waste authority establish a recycling
program and substituted for it the process
that the tripartite agreement calls for.
As to the
future of the agency, he said "that is up to the sunset
committee of the legislature to decide." He said, however, that
lawmakers who appear to favor eliminating the waste authority
haven't given much thought to what would happen next. "There
will be just as much garbage the day after we 'sunset'," Vasuki