This is a special day. It is not very often I get to check the solid waste category box:
... lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to make California the first state to approve a blanket ban on this most ubiquitous of consumer products. ...
Mr. Padilla’s [a state senator who is sponsoring legislation for a statewide ban] measure would ban the bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and other locations where they have long been standbys. Paper bags and more robust, reusable plastic bags will be available for 10 cents, with the goal of forcing shoppers to remember their canvas bags.
The case against plastic shopping bags is simple and, with more than 150 communities across the country embracing some kind of anti-bag laws, increasingly familiar. Plastic bags are used once or twice but can last up to a millennium. Only a small fraction of the bags are recycled, in large part because they jam sorting machines at recycling plants and so must be separated from other plastics. Many bags end up snagged on trees, stuck in storm drains or sitting in landfills.
In just a few years, local bans on plastic bags have spread from San Francisco to Honolulu to the North Shore of Massachusetts. Washington, D.C., has imposed a five-cent fee, and New York City has several times considered charging for bags, most recently last year, when the proposal died at the end of the city’s legislative session. The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has expressed support for a ban on plastic bags.
Many consumers bristle at having to pay for a necessity that has always been free. “We’re already struggling,” Ms. Moya said as she waited in the rain for a taxi with her disintegrating paper bags, bought for 10 cents each. “Groceries cost enough money. Then I have to pay for bags?”
The plastics industry has worked furiously to tap into that frustration. So far, the industry — behind millions of dollars spent lobbying lawmakers — has managed to beat back efforts to pass statewide bans in California and a handful of other states.
Hilex Poly, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of plastic bags, single-handedly spent more than $1 million lobbying against a bill to ban plastic in California in 2010. That bill failed, as did another attempt in 2013. Hilex Poly, based in Hartsville, S.C., has made political donations to every Democrat in the California Senate who joined Republicans in voting against last year’s bill.
Mark Daniels, a vice president at Hilex Poly, said a ban would cost the state up to 2,000 jobs. ...
[Bans are] “... very effective, and it’s very cost-effective,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for San Jose, Calif.
Since San Jose’s ban took effect in 2012, plastic-bag litter in storm drains, which can contribute to flooding, has fallen by 89 percent. In unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, large retail stores reported a drop in the use of paper bags since a similar ban, coupled with a 10-cent fee for paper bags, took effect. ...
Abbi Waxman, a television writer in Los Angeles, said she had tried for years to wean herself off plastic bags. But despite sidelong looks from grocery store cashiers, she seldom remembered to bring her cloth bags.
Then the 10-cent fee kicked in.
“Once they started charging me, that was the tipping point when I could actually remember to bring my bags,” said Ms. Waxman, 43, standing with a half-dozen reusable bags on a recent shopping trip.
Just on principle, I'd prefer a higher plastic bag fee that covers the environmental costs of plastic bags without the ban. Bans can be inefficient and those bags can be useful. Those who are willing to pay their full costs should be given the chance to use them.
I hope that readers of this blog know not to take that 2000 job estimate too seriously. When you can show that an environmental policy affects the unemployment rate (or better yet, the employment population ratio), we'll take you more seriously.
In terms of my own environmental behavior, I get Tomato Bank points every time I bring my AEA bag (or my NAAFE bag) to Earthfare. I still forget enough times that my inventory of recycled boxes that they provide has caused my kids to sleep in the same room. And I have enough plastic bags from Ingles that my turkey sandwich has a brand new lunch bag every day.
Incentive-based municipal solid waste policy makes $ense:
Wake County’s landfill will likely last longer than originally forecast, but public and private solid-waste experts are already planning to have solutions in hand when space runs out. ...
WasteZero helps communities switch to the model known as pay-as-you-throw. Residents have to buy special trash bags to use; otherwise, their trash won’t be taken to the landfill. Joshua Kolling-Perin, director of public engagement for the company, said communities usually charge about $1 for a small bag and $2 for a large bag.
Kolling-Perin compared the model to other utilities, where the amount paid depends of the person’s use of the service. Everyone paying a flat fee “gives no incentives to throw away less, recycle more – to create less waste,” he said.
Switching to pay-as-you-throw reduces solid waste by an average of 46 percent across their 800 communities, he said. The average household ends up using 1.25 trash bags a week. Assuming a household used a large bag for $2 each, that would be about $130 a year. Kolling-Perin said his company encourages towns and counties to reduce other trash fees when making the switch, as well as to make recycling free.
We the Appalachian State University Sustainability Council do hereby proclaim our support for Appalachian's Zero-Waste Commitment and the associated Minibin and Single Stream Recycling initiatives described below:
Minibin Waste Collection System: In Spring 2013 Semester 11 buildings will roll-out this system, which replaces the traditional trashcan with a hybrid container for both recycling and landfill waste. Faculty and staff will be asked to empty their own mini-bins into the appropriate recycling or landfill bin. This will allow housekeeping efforts to focus on cleaning and sanitizing offices, deep cleaning bathrooms and disinfecting high touch areas such as door knobs and telephones.
Single Stream Recycling: In Spring 2013 Semester Single Stream Recycling will be rolled out campus wide. Single Stream will allow all recyclable materials to go into one bin – paper, plastic, metal and glass. “One bin, it all goes in.”
Your name and your vote will not be made public. We only share this information on an aggregate basis. More information about this commitment and these initiatives can be found as www.zerowaste.appstate.edu.
I voted yes in support of the initiative but left this comment:
This is actually two resolutions. I would like to vote against the first and for the second. The first system is confusing and has resulted in Raley Hall being a mess. Trash can be found all over the place since there are no trash cans in classrooms and some offices. Plus, it seems like an inefficient use of resources for faculty to carry their trashcans down the hall trying to find some place to empty it.
The second one seems to be a no brainer.
Here is what they say at the zero waste website:
A "zero waste" commitment has begun at Appalachian State University with the goal of diverting 90 percent of all waste from landfill disposal by 2022.
The university currently diverts 40 percent of its waste annually from a landfill by recycling, reducing and composting.
When I do the math, 10% waste > 0% waster. Does anyone else have a problem with that sentence.
What the picture doesn't show is that at about the same time they took away office trash pick up. We're carrying it out of our office anyway so we might as well recycle. I'm not sure if you would call our reaction to that an "embrace."
A machine that converts waste plastic into crude oil is operating at a recycling depot in Whitehorse.
The machine is the first of its kind in North America.
Project manager Andy Lera first read about what he calls the "amazing" machine more than a year ago. He read that a Japanese man who was tired of seeing so much waste plastic being burned had found a relatively inexpensive way of converting plastic to crude oil.
Lera pitched the idea to Cold Climate Innovation at Yukon College’s research centre. The centre convinced the federal government to share in the cost, which is around $200,000.
The machine is now running at P & M Recycling.
“We're going to try it out in our own furnaces and run it in our furnace and waste oil furnaces. Any furnace that has a tank inside can use this stuff, but of course we're going to test run it here first to make sure,” said P&M Recycling owner Pat McInroy.
McInroy said people in Whitehorse throw away more than 900,000 kilograms of waste plastics every year. The machine can turn 10 kilograms of plastic into 10 litres of synthetic diesel.
“I do believe it can pay for itself, but I also believe it takes care of a larger problem, which is the waste plastics that are quite frankly getting thrown in the garbage. Now if we can close the loop on that, I think that's every recycler’s goal,” said McInroy.
Lera said the machine will stay at P & M for the next two years for testing and McInroy will use the oil to heat his plant. He said it should work in any furnace which has an inside tank.
After the test period, they will review the project to see if they need a bigger machine.
... A growing number of large food and beverage companies in the United States are assuming the costs of recycling their packaging after consumers are finished with it, a responsibility long imposed on packaged goods companies in Europe and more recently in parts of Asia, Latin America and Canada.
Several factors are converging to make what is known as “extended producer responsibility” more attractive and, perhaps, more commonplace in the United States.
“Local governments are literally going broke and so are looking for ways to shift the costs of recycling off onto someone, and companies that make the packaging are logical candidates,” said Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact at the Starbucks Corporation. “More environmentally conscious consumers are demanding that companies share their values, too.”
Perhaps most important, he said, “companies are becoming more aware that resources are limited and what they’ve traditionally thrown away — wow, it has value.” It is now cheaper to recycle an aluminum can into a new can than it is to make one from virgin material, and the same is becoming true for plastic bottles. ...
The principle is the same with used plastic bottles, which are made from petroleum — and are one of the country’s largest exports to China, where they are used to make fabric fibers. “Tuna cans, cereal boxes, laundry detergent bottles — all of it has value in end markets that are thirsty for it,” said Michael Washburn, director of sustainability at Nestlé Waters North America, a bottled-water producer.
So far, company-sponsored recycling efforts are voluntary in the United States. Many states have laws requiring companies to take responsibility for spent products like batteries and mercury switches, but so far, only Maine has a law that might shift the cost of discarded packaging to business. ...
We may actually be observing someone picking up the $20 bill lying on the ground (an economist joke). Regulation isn't needed if, in fact, it is cheaper for a company to recycle a cup (can, bottle) to make a new cup (can, bottle) relative to buying a new one. I imagine that there are economies of scale working here, small companies could not afford to do this on their own but markets could emerge for selling used cups (cans, bottles).
If, in fact, it is cheaper to do so. I'm skeptical, since if recycling really did save money, some company would have already done it by now.
Just beneath the corny wackiness of Beetle Bailey is of course a constant undercurrent of brutal violence, but I’ve never seen it quite so explicit as it is today. We see Camp Swampy as a set of mutually hostile fiefdoms, whose simmering resentment towards each other could escalate to open carnage based on the most minor of disputes, with little that the camp commanders can do to restrain their nominal underlings. The final panel is particularly harrowing: Sarge, still so keyed up that he probably can’t even feel those visible bruises yet, stalking off wide-eyed from the mangled corpse of his rival, which he’s left among the strewn garbage and its stink lines.
Something about common property resources, I think.
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
Don't believe what they're saying
And allow me a quick moment to gush: ... The env-econ.net blog was more or less a lifeline in that period of my life, as it was one of the few ways I stayed plugged into the env. econ scene. -- Anonymous
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
"... I try and read the blog everyday and have pointed it out to other faculty who have their students read it for class. It is truly one of the best things in the blogosphere." -- Anonymous