environmental consulting firm's study presented to the Recycling
Public Advisory Council concludes that expansion of the Delaware
Solid Waste Authority's voluntary programs, coupled with a ban
on dumping yard waste, would, at best, produce a 24% rate. And
Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the council, said his calculations
using the same data found that Vermont-based D.S.M.
Environmental Services is probably overoptimistic.
don't want people to think that, if we just get rid of yard
waste, we can do it voluntarily," Wilkinson said.
Proposed legislation being prepared by Michael Parkwoski, lawyer
for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, would include a yard
waste ban, but the Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control believes that it has the authority to
impose one by adoption of a regulation. It admits, however, that
that assumption would likely be contested by a lawsuit.
the council received a draft of the legislation at a meeting on
Dec. 15, it voted to eliminate one controversial provision and
to try to approve a final draft through an exchange of e.mail
messages. It hopes that can be done in time to meet an
end-of-the-year deadline for submitting it and a detailed report
to Governor Ruth Ann Minner and the Assembly. The council also
has yet to sign off on a final version of the report and agreed
to try to do that electronically as well.
reaching such consensus approvals fails, the council agreed to
come together in early January to wrap up a year's effort to
craft a workable recycling program. The Assembly is scheduled to
be called into session on Jan. 11. The governor presumably will
make known her views on recycling legislation in her
'state-of-the-state' address later that month.
Discussion at the council meeting indicated that getting a
mandatory recycling law through the legislature is anything but
a guaranteed proposition. Nor is it even clear how Minner will
respond to what will amount to a joint proposal by the council,
the natural resources department and the waste authority.
Senator David McBride, who is considered the most likely lead
sponsor of recycling legislation, declined a Delaforum request
for comment, saying that he wants to "wait and see what the
30% goal was set by former governor Thomas Carper when he set up
the recycling council by executive order and retained when
Minner continued the council in the same manner. An attempt by
McBride to give the goal the force of law by including it in a
preliminary version of recycling legislation failed when the
Assembly defeated that measure last spring.
Parkowski's draft legislation as
it now stands mostly follows that path the council charted since
entering into a joint agreement with the natural resources
department and the waste authority to
produce a workable recycling plan. "I tried to make sure
the legislation reflects the decisions made by this
group," Parkowski said.
The draft went beyond
that in at least two respects.
One provision would
impose a $3-a-ton fee on all waste haulers licensed by
the state to create a fund to subsidize a waste
authority facility to process recyclables for resale,
but exempt municipalities which collect trash from
paying the fee. By a five-to-two vote, with Pasquale
Canzano, the waste authority's chief operating officer
and a member of the council, abstaining, the council
directed Parkowski to drop the exemption from the
provision in the final draft.
Parkowski said he had put
it there to head off opposition from governments of
incorporated areas, particularly Wilmington, to the
measure. He estimated the fee would cost Wilmington
about $4 million a year.
The fee would not be
imposed on recyclable trash hauled by
How we're doing
Brandywine Hundred is leading the way in the
rate of participation by households in the
Delaware Solid Waste Authority's subscription
recyclables collection program.
postal zip code, are the rates as of Oct. 24:
* Program was not available before
June 1, 2004.
The draft also contains a provision for a one-time $5 million
appropriation to finance a fund into which municipalities could
tap by a grants process to help pay for additional equipment and
other costs associated with starting a recyclables collection
other new provision -- which the council discussed only briefly
and on which it did not take a position -- involves enforcement
of the law and regulations flowing from it. It calls for a
graduated process ranging upward from a "request for compliance"
to charging flagarent violators with an environmental
misdemeanor, for which existing law provides penalties ranging
up to a $500 fine and a 30-day jail sentence.
Wilkinson said he would not want to see "enforcement as
something that is a heavy-handed exercise." Parkowski said the
intent is to rely on public education as the key to making the
law work with the enforcement provision there to provide "a
hammer" if needed. "If people see there is no hammer behind it,
they will not participate," he said.
Controversial by its absence from the draft was inclusion of
glass and some kinds of plastic from the list of recyclable
materials to be collected. Listed are paper, aluminum, steel and
some plastics. Thre is also a provision that additional
materials can be added in the future.
waste authority contends that glass, in particular, has no
resale value and that including it would contaminate paper and
reduce its value. The authority is counting on selling the
processed material to provide for the lion's share of the cost
of operating the processing facility.
Canzano said also that it it intends to provide a way by which
people can voluntarily drop off some recyclable materials that
will not be collected -- such as batteries and electronic
products -- and glass can be handled in that way. "Nothing
prevents us in the future from adding other materials as markets
develop," he said.
the council appeared apt to become bogged down in discussion of
the glass issue, Wilkinson cut off the conversation on the
grounds the issue had been covered. He cautioned against
excessive tampering with the draft legislation which Parkowski,
who is experienced in that area, said was designed to garner as
much legislative support as possible.
Compromise of some points, Wilkinson said, is preferable to
jeopardizing the measure. "Jazz it up and [you will] have the
whole thing shot down," he said.
is likely to happen anyway "if you go ahead with a proposal that
is generally unacceptable to the public," according Alan
Mueller, of Green Delaware, who attended the meeting as an
observer said. He argued that the program the council has come
up with does not have public support.
Council member Steve Masterson, of Waste Management of Delaware,
conceded that, although comments at four public hearings were
almost entirely favorable, "there is a small group that likes
it, a small group that doesn't like it, and the majority of the
public [which] doesn't give a darn."
Hoffman, president of the Milltown-Limestone Civic Alliance, who
also attended as an observer, asked the council "use this
(recycling) as a platform" to require that trash collection,
including collection of recyclables, be handled by a system by
which haulers would be franchised by districts. He said trucks
from five different firms serve the 15 houses that he can see
from his house and those from three or four other firms drive
through his neighborhood.
you're not going to districting, we (the civic organization)
are. ... I can't see why anything you have [in] here has to
raise the cost," he said. The additional cost of having private
companies collect recyclables is estimated to run between $3 and
$7 a month, depending on the density of a neighborhood's
Although it generally is accepted that the purpose for recycling
is to make use of material that otherwise would be abandoned,
Parkowski's draft would codify that by specifically providing
that "the source-separated recyclable material enter the
marketplace as usable products or are put to other beneficial
also formally establishes the goals by providing that the
residential waste recovery rate, which is equivalent to the
amount of recyclable material diverted from landfills, reach a
minimum of 15% in a year, 20% in two years, and 30% in three
years. When waste from commercial sources is included, the
minimum recovery rate is set at 50% after three years.
current residential rate, which includes the waste authority's
'Recycle Delaware' program for material brought to collection
sides and its subscription collection service in New Castle
County, is estimated to be about 14%.
Wilkinson said a future project for the council will be to push
for mandatory recycling by government agencies in the state. "If
government offices ... are not willing to recycle, why should
the people be required to recycle?" he said.