Solid Waste

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$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge

"The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US."

"Fossil fuel companies are among those who have ploughed more than $180bn since 2010 into new “cracking” facilities that will produce the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons."

Hefty EnergyBag ends yearlong recycling pilot in Omaha; program remains controversial despite saving 10 tons of materials from landfills

"It works like this: People in the Omaha area buy orange Hefty-brand bags from local Hy-Vee stores or from online vendors. They then fill the bags with stuff that’s not otherwise recyclable, like foam cups, chip bags and plastic utensils. The bags go into recycling bins, and once they arrive at the City of Omaha’s contracted recycling sorting facility, they’re picked off a conveyor belt and stockpiled for alternative uses. One such use is a fuel source at a Kansas City-area cement kiln."

"Dawaune Lamont Hayes, 23, of Omaha has spent the better part of this year stuffing the orange bags with such plastics. Hayes, who is communications director for a local art gallery, says he fills one up about every two months."

“I know that I have an option not to throw it into a landfill,” Hayes said.

"Sounds simple, right? But along the way, the program has also found vociferous criticism."

"On one side, program advocates say finding alternative uses for these materials is an improvement over sending them to rot in a landfill."

"On the other, local and national sustainability advocates have blasted the program. They say if we’re going to continue to use such materials as they’re currently made — think the multilayered potato chip bag — it’d be better to just let the stuff sit in a landfill. If that potato chip bag, for instance, is incinerated, as has been one use case with the program so far, it will emit carbon dioxide — exactly what environmentalists and many scientists say the Earth doesn’t need more of."

Dunn Construction Landfill, Monthly Tonnage 2016

Many people don't realize that the Albany-area's largest landfill in total tonnage in 2016 was the Dunn Construction Debris Landfill in Rensselaer. It only accepts construction debris unlike the Rapp Road Landfill which takes in a variety of wastes. Nearly every month the Dunn Landfill took in a greater tonnage of waste then any other Capital Region Landfill. Compare to the Rapp Road Landfill: http://andyarthur.org/chart-tons-of-waste-accepted-at-rapp-road-landfill-2016.html

Data Source: NYSDEC Annual Solid Waste Facility Reports, 2016. ftp://ftp.dec.state.ny.us/dshm/SWMF/Annual%20Reports_Solid%20Waste%20Management%20Facility/Annual%20Reports_by%20Activity%20Type/Landfill/Landfill%20Annual%20Reports%20-%202016/R4/42D20_Dunn_cd_R4_2016.2017-03-02.AR.pdf

Rapp Road Landfill Yearly Tonnage, 1991-2016

In recent years, the City of Albany has tried to maximize their profitability at the Rapp Road Landfill by taking in more different types of waste, including asbestos-contaminated materials, industrial wastes, sewage sludge incinerator waste, and petroleum contaminated soil.

Data Source: NYSDEC Annual Solid Waste Facility Reports, 2016. ftp://ftp.dec.state.ny.us/dshm/SWMF/Annual%20Reports_Solid%20Waste%20Management%20Facility/Annual%20Reports_by%20Activity%20Type/Landfill/Landfill%20Annual%20Reports%20-%202016/R4/01S02_Albany_SWMF_msw_R4_2016.2017-03-01.AR.pdf

Average Daily Tonnage at Rapp Road Landfill

About 2/3rds of the waste that Rapp Road Landfill accepts is Municipal Solid Waste, although it is also a significant facility for the disposal of Construction and Demolition debris and Asbestos-containing wastes. It's also one of the few facilities permitted to accept incinerated sewage sludge, and it imports about a third of it's incinerated sewage sludge from the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Data Source: NYSDEC Annual Solid Waste Facility Reports, 2016. ftp://ftp.dec.state.ny.us/dshm/SWMF/Annual%20Reports_Solid%20Waste%20Management%20Facility/Annual%20Reports_by%20Activity%20Type/Landfill/Landfill%20Annual%20Reports%20-%202016/R4/01S02_Albany_SWMF_msw_R4_2016.2017-03-01.AR.pdf

America’s Television Graveyards

"Years after most Americans switched to flat-screens, we're just now beginning to deal with the long-term ramifications of sustainably disposing of old cathode-ray televisions and computer monitors. This dangerous, labor-intensive, and costly undertaking will have to be done for each of the estimated 705 million CRT TVs sold in the United States since 1980. CRT processing, as it's called, happens at only a handful of the best e-waste recycling centers in the United States. In many cases, your old TV isn't recycled at all and is instead abandoned in a warehouse somewhere, left for society to deal with sometime in the future."

"At ECS, televisions affixed with Post-it Notes labeling each unit's weight have been arranged in a line, ready to be hammered, crowbarred, and sawed back into their component parts. There are old Sony Trinitrons, wood-paneled RCAs, and huge plastic Toshibas. Plastic TVs weigh up to 80 pounds, but larger, rear-projection CRTs can weigh as much as 500 pounds, and surely, in better days, had prominent spots in family rooms around the country."

"Demanufacturing the televisions is hard manual labor that works as a reverse assembly line, as the components from these old TVs are separated by hand and moved down a conveyor belt. First, they use a crowbar to remove the back case. They cut, strip, and sort the power cords. They remove internal screws with drills. What's left of the TV is then hammered, to separate the front screen from the cathode-ray vacuum tube. They strip the wires for copper. Wood will eventually be composted or turned into sawdust. Plastic is put through a shredder so that it can be melted. A handheld grinder spews sparks as it separates the screen from whatever is left of the tube. Then, more smashing—this time, the glass. "

A small town tries to put a lid on power of Big Trash

Private waste companies are looking to be “economically efficient and politically expedient,” says Daniel Faber, director of Northeastern University’s Environmental Justice Research Collaborative (NEJRC) in Boston. This means choosing host communities with lower education levels and less time, money, and resources to mobilize themselves, he says. “They are less likely to offer opposition.”