Zero Waste as a Mainstream Proposition

As the county still scrambles to try to find a solution to the impending loss of all landfill space in Orange County, I was happily surprised by an article about mainstreaming the zero waste concept that appeared in today's New York Times.  I recognize that the solid waste folks here in the county are way ahead of the game compared to other municipalities in North Carolina, but I wonder if we should be pushing them harder as a community to approach zero waste.  I'll admit to being a bit ignorant about the current philosophy of the solid waste authority, so perhaps they are already pushing this.  But I have been dismayed by the fact that we do not yet have a small business and residential composting program that can handle organic wastes for those who don't have the option of composting on site.  At the very least, it seems like such a program is necessary for capturing food waste from cafeterias, restaurants, and businesses with more than 10 or so employees.  I've set up a worm composting bin at work, but I don't believe most workplaces would be willing to go to that length to create a smaller waste stream.  

So could someone give me an idea of whether anyone is talking about large scale composting, and whether there are new initiatives to further reduce our dependence on the landfill?  I suppose that we still have the issue of tipping fees, etc., so I'd also be interested to hear folks' thoughts on whether there is any incentive for the solid waste folks to further reduce residents' consumption? I know we've had past discussions about pay as you go trash cans, but that didn't really ever seem to go anywhere.  Any current thinking on how we might change the model to further incentivize no waste?





Rickie, you might want to get involved in this: short answer is yes, we are looking at some of the initiatives mentioned above, including revising our waste reduction goal upward from a current 61% to zero-waste as you suggest.  However, that discussion (zero-waste) really has only barely begun.The phase of the Solid Waste Management Plan update that is currently being worked on concerns rural recycling, rural trash collection, solid-waste convenience centers etc.  However, the planning process is also covering reducing our total waste stream, collecting more types of materials, expanding route coverage, changing to a single-stream wheel-out recycling cart and also mass composting and some other technologies.  Single-stream collection means that all recyclables are mixed together in one bin and are mechanically separated later (as opposed to our current curbside system which is dual stream; one bin for paper; one bin for bottles and cans).  Single stream would be lower cost for collection and allow the use of a single roll-out cart.  The roll-out cart is thought to be easier on the recycler's back and would allow people to handle the increased weight of recycling owing to diverting more of their waste from the garbage can. Some of these changes would be easy to implement and will probably happen soon (wheeled recycling carts).  Others such as alrge scale composting require a lot of land and are likely to be viewed as undesirable land uses.  And I need not explain how difficult it is to site solid waste facilities in this county.  So the future is a bit hazier for some of these things.I am so glad you brought this up though, Rickie.  I wish more people would show public support for an aggressive waste management plan.  Sadly, it mostly comes up when someone realizes that the transfer station might be put near their house.  And then those of us who have been pouring our hearts into solid waste reduction get attacked for supposedly not having done enough.  It can be frustrating.

Every site search for a landfill or a transfer station has been fundamentally flawed.

Here's information on what UNC is doing with composting: And here's a press release on the annual award OWRR won for their composting program: At the municipal level, the educational activities where home composting bins are sold, worm composting demos, etc. are important because they help individual home owners divert food waste from their trash. There's more that could be done with food composting, but it would be prohibitively expensive to collect and manage.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.