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Tuesday, Dec 06th

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You are here: Opinions Viewpoints Schaller conducts his own curbside recycling ‘analysis’

Schaller conducts his own curbside recycling ‘analysis’

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PART 3

In fact it can be argued Seattle should be the poster child for curbside failure.  When asked of Seattle’s fees Mr. Parker could only guess at $25.00/month. That gives CDM serious credibility issues. In Gallup we currently pay $15.00 a month and that should be lower considering our location. EPA bureaucrats claim the revenues received for processed commodities offset program costs however the evidence shows the costs of curbside are far greater than the revenue generated. The cost of living in Seattle is bad enough for those of low income without piling on more costs. Recycling regulations have become so intrusive in Seattle citizens have described their curbside program as eco-fascist, garbage nazis and green tyranny - rules, rules, rules. And that’s not all, one recycling plant in Washington State produces more toxic emissions than any other factory in the region. And the next three biggest polluters in the area? Yeah, they’re also recycling plants. In fact, almost all new superfund sites are not landfills, but recycling plants…. New York City found their waste disposal costs doubled with curbside and every one of their mayors has attempted to eliminate it since it was begun in 1989 only to succumb to the demands of green activists. Bear in mind metropolitan areas are the places that are supposed to most likely reduce costs and generate revenue as compared to small communities like ours. In Seattle recycling is a sacred cow. As the Seattle Times concludes “recycling is almost a religion in Seattle” however it sounds more like an OCD neurosis to me…. That is CDM’s utopian model. Does anybody really believe the only cost increases Gallup households will experience are $2.80 per month? That’s what the curbside supporters keep telling us. That’s what the Gallup Independent tells us, those bastions of objectivity and credibility. Would the media lie? That’s also likely what was told to Seattle’s citizens in 1988.

***Initial meetings with CDM brought a total of 54 people attending two meetings and 146 responses on an online survey. CDM characterized this as a high level of support for curbside recycling. In a district meeting 20 people raised their hands in support. There are about 5,000 people in each district, so there is actually very little support by just a small handful of activists. Even the Gallup Independent concedes “a small minority cannot be allowed to dictate policy”. At those district meetings rather than raising questions of a scientific, historical or economic nature I mostly heard repetitive stories by the same attendees concerning their own recycling experiences and their concerns of our spiritual responsibility as stewards of the earth. When I offered my knowledge I was asked by a Recycling Board member to provide on-the-spot proof, something which they themselves have none to offer. Another green activist proclaimed to all that I do not care about America’s environment after I expressed concern for China’s cancer villages.

***Landfills! The national average of waste which still goes to the landfill in curbside programs is 75% even with many programs recycling glass. So once we invest more and get businesses and apartments on board, since glass will not be recycled all of our added curbside costs will likely reduce waste which goes to the landfill by 15 to 20%..... Contrary to what Al Gore has claimed modern landfills create absolutely no environmental harm. Landfill space is abundant nationally, requiring far less space than green activists would have us believe, far less space than the supposedly ‘green’ solar energy farms. Even the EPA admits it and CDM acknowledges that fact as well. However no matter how many times you remind eco-activists of the facts they will always return to the ‘landfills are bad’ fallacy…. Since recyclables are not compacted it costs more to transport them from neighborhoods, as well as the increased emissions of transporting equal amounts compared to waste. In a place like Gallup with so much open land,  clay soil, dry climate, minimal leaching and the relative space required for landfills so small it’s absolutely mindboggling that we send our trash all the way to Thoreau or even pay someone a landfill cost. Once again it appears the federal government’s land hoarding and an out-of-control EPA staffed with radical green activists are obstacles to our community’s progress with over-the-top ridiculous regulations, which actually result in increased pollution. Considering the large amount of our waste - likely 80% or more - which will still go to the landfill, it may be wise for us to focus more on lowering the cost of disposal by finding landfill space nearby and reduce emissions at the same time.

***Plastics! The many negatives of recycling plastics was not covered by CDM. Plastics recycling has always been an unstable market due to cheap petroleum and China’s ‘green fence’ which now prohibits contaminated as well as certain types of plastics. 70% of the worlds and 60% of the US plastics has been sent to China with a resulting devastating environmental impact due to China’s lack of processing technology. There’s even a term in China, “cancer villages”, wherever plastics and solar panel minerals are processed. There are over 400 cancer villages in China with skyrocketing mortality rates. Here again CDM was totally unaware of these facts. Recycling plastic and paper is an extremely dirty business requiring greater amounts of toxic chemicals than manufacturing virgin plastic and paper. A third of recycled paper ends up as a toxic sludge which must be carefully disposed of. Clean and green sounds pretty however the massive footprint of green projects is pretty ugly and far larger than any damage from carbon dioxide…  How many miles is it to China? If you think transporting waste to the landfill produces emissions, how about sending 60% or more of America’s recyclables half way around the world? Seriously? And then 30% of that ends up in Chinese landfills. Mister John Q Public is likely ignorant of those facts. To them once the recyclables are picked up it’s out-of-sight out-of-mind…. Despite the efforts of the Obama administration and eco-activists to raise the price of oil as well as energy costs, thanks to advanced technologies the increased availability of petroleum will likely keep the demand for plastics down with the result of it ending up in landfills - of which there are no shortages of space nor danger to the environment. Currently it is cheaper to buy virgin plastic than recycled plastic and since oil prices dropped European recyclers are going bankrupt. If Friedman Recycling goes belly up Gallup’s large investment is jeopardized. There are many more negative complexities about plastics recycling such as contamination by uncleansed and incompatible recyclables.

***Paper comes from renewable forests. There is no shortage. There is an abundance of timber grown by forest product companies. World biomass is at record high levels. Glass is made from the most common mineral on earth, silica sand. Processing recycled glass is also more detrimental than creating virgin glass. There is very little demand for recycled glass but plenty of cheap landfill space.

***All in one recycling like the method proposed for Gallup has drawbacks, like the costly technology of the $20 million Friedman Recycling facility in Albuquerque. That technology focuses on quantity over quality which creates contamination issues so common with recycling.

***We already have successful recycling in Gallup. It is free market environmentalism and it’s all voluntary. Citizens get paid for their recyclables also. Thanks to advanced technology the free market, particularly big industry, has been the leader in ecology for the past century – ironic, isn’t it. Mandatory recycling is an authoritarian imposition of morality on society, however it is a false morality contrary to reality.

***Winners and losers: Despite what bureaucrats and activists claim, science and economics tell us that landfills are not an environmental issue, resources are not in danger, more energy is used by curbside recycling, more emissions are created and social benefit is zero. So who stands to gain and who stands to lose, not just with curbside recycling but with most green schemes such as renewable energy? The profiteers include: 1. Big business interests such as CDM Smith. 2. Crony green corporate giants such as General Electric. 3. Politicians and EPA bureaucrats seeking to expand their power. 4. Public servants and their labor unions. 5. Eco-activists supported by the crony billionaire’s club led by the likes of progressive statists Tom Steyer and George Soros. 6. The missionaries of the earth worshipper cult seeking to validate their religion…. Many special interests stand to gain from curbside however the losers, the pawns in this game, are the unwitting taxpayers (particularly those with low incomes), the economy and ironically even the environment. There’s an economic reason why so many communities have opted out of their curbside and any notion that the environment benefits more than it is harmed is scientifically proven to be erroneous.

***Finally, what I take issue with more than anything are the green activists on the Recycling Council and Sustainable Energy Board, who made it quite clear at district meetings as well as their formal monthly meetings that curbside recycling is just the beginning of their green makeover plans as stewards of the earth (with humans of secondary concern), thus opening the door to even bigger projects. Those projects are of an anti-affordable energy nature such as anti-fracking in the county, apparently one of the next targets of the SGB – apparently using Hollywood as their primary source of data rather than the Dept of Energy, USGS or even the radical greens in the EPA who have been forced to give fracking their safety stamp of approval due to the inconvenient truths of science. Then the green crusade will move onward to pro-renewable energy which is erroneously labeled clean energy. They are the next overreaching schemes to scare away industry and chase off prospective businesses by sending our utility rates skyrocketing, as Europeans have learned the hard way from wind and solar unsustainability with their devastating epidemic of fuel poverty, while at the same time wreaking havoc on China’s humanity and ecosystems.

In conclusion, separation of church and state is a big deal for some, however I am more concerned about the separation of good empirical science from junk science, political special interests and bad religion now recognized as the secular faith of ‘sustainability’. Despite early good intentions green activism has evolved into a religion of bullies, hogging the pulpit in a one sided debate and dismissing opposition as heretics - deniers!  I am in favor of opening a diverse dialogue regarding green schemes and starting a diverse conversation beyond the current political correctness of the Gallup Establishment.

I hope the City Council and management will make informed decisions about green projects based on science and intellect rather than emotional reactions of a politically correct nature. I will be providing the SGB with copies of my analysis as well.

You have now been forewarned of the risks and unintended consequences of not only curbside recycling but of the many pie-in-the-sky schemes which lie ahead as Gallup and McKinley County stumble thru the green gauntlet. Ignorance will not be an excuse for failure. As I have made quite clear in the past, with my considerable knowledge of navigation thru the environmentalist miasma I will always be available as a resource. My door is always open.

Joe Schaller