target could be exceeded by a fairly wide margin, however, if
dumping yard waste into the landfills were banned and that
material was composted, either commercially or privately, or
mulched. As much as 75% of the material could end up being
reused, a preliminary draft of a report said.
rate is based on an assumption that about two-thirds of
recyclables would actually be recovered to be reused. Even if
all the material were recovered, the overall recycling rate
would go up to only 24%. Based on 2000 data, Delaware households
generate 510,310 tons of waste a year, of which 121,916 tons is
of collecting and processing household recyclables statewide
would be $23.7 million a year if householders were permitted to
put all kinds of designated material into a single container for
street-side pickup. If they had to further separate it between
two containers, the cost would go up to $30.7 million.
Apportioned equally among households, the cost comes down to
about $7 a month for single stream or $8.50 for dual stream.
single-stream -- one container -- recycling costs less to
collect than dual-stream recyclig, but more to process. The
quality of the resulting material is lower, which reduces its
Those estimates by D.S.M.
Environmental Services Inc. are the basis of a draft report
produced by the waste authority under a tripartite agreement
with the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control
and the Recycling Public Advisory Council.
An unsigned cover memo cautioned that
the report is, indeed, a first draft and will likely be subject
to a considerable number of changes as the other parties attempt
to resolve controversial elements and the general public gets a
crack at it at four open hearings during the autumn. A final
report and draft legislation is due to be presented to Governor
Ruth Ann Minner and the General Assembly by the end of the year.
"At this time, no decisions have been
made regarding the contents of the report, including proposed
legislation," the memo said.
As previously reported, the draft
legislation as it now stands would establish a statewide system
for collecting recyclables by dividing the counties into
districts in which private companies would bid for exclusive
contracts to collect recyclables. The program would be paid for
by assessing county governments, which presumably would pass
that cost to property owners either as part of the property tax
or as a separate fee. Both of those ideas have already sparked
The D.S.M. Environmental study is the
fourth since 1997 to look into the feasibility of
government-sponsored recycling in Delaware.
Nowhere in the preliminary report is
there a conclusion drawn about that, but it does point out that
even a successful program will have relatively little effect in
extending the useful life of the existing landfills. Without its
proposed controversial expansion, the Cherry Island Marsh
landfill has two years to go before it is filled. Achieving a
30% recycling rate would add only five months to its anticipated
In terms of combined capacity of the
three public landfills, their useful life would go from 17½
years to 20¾ years. "Even with a 30% residential solid waste
recycling rate, substantial landfill capacity is still needed
statewide to manage the remaining 687,000 tons of municipal
solid waste annually," the draft report said.
also punctures a myth that marketing recyclable material is an
avenue to sure riches. Except for aluminum cans and sheets,
which have maintained relatively high resale value, other
material considered commercially viable has fluctuated widely
between their highs and lows since 1999. Steel cans, for
instance, have ranged between $20 and $100 a ton; plastic
between $40 and $160.
Delaware is too small to influence the resale market, the draft
report notes that the waste authority has been particularly
successful in selling between 95% and 97% of the material
collected through its 'Recycle Delaware' drop-off program.
Partly the result of such material having been separated into
several categories by donors and partly through the efforts of a
staff person in getting the best prices and longer-term purchase
commitments, the authority has established a 'niche' in the
resale market, the report said.
brought into question in the draft report is the assumption
that, aside from a relatively small cadre of devoted recyclers,
the public is not apt to take kindly to a law requiring them to
sort their rubbish. It notes there are more than 500 state
recycling laws on the books around the country. Most of them
rely to a large degree on voluntary compliance. "The neighboring
states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have a variety
of programs developed and implemented by local governments
[with] varying rates of success," it said.