Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Economic collapse extends landfill life

Metro doomsayers can breathe easier. We may not have to ship garbage to the US after all. Economic collapse may save the day.

Last week I sent out a query to Zero Waste associates asking if anyone is seeing declines in waste volumes.

Seattle waste manager Jenny Bagby reported declines in their waste that began in December 07. Waste volumes down overall 8.3% from a year ago.

A consultant based in Phoenix said his clients are reporting dips of 10% to 40%, depending on the company's core business or the waste stream they deal with.

Jerry Powell, who publishes Resource Recycling magazine, said the bigger declines are in construction waste, but they will be seen in commercial and residential waste too.

Last week at a waste conference in Courtenay, Jerry told all the delegates something they already knew: not only is waste down, but the markets for recycled materials are "in the tank." The other end of the slowdown. Wayne Turner in North Carolina mused that landfill disposal may be "our new crystal ball."

Interestingly, while waste and recycling are down, compost volumes are not. Dan Knapp in the California Bay area noted that plants keep growing even when manufacturing is down: "Compost facilities may turn out to be more or less 'recession-proof'."

Knapp: "This could be a good argument for having compost facilities in every community instead of concentrated on agricultural lands. The tip fees and product sales from compost disposal can then act as a stabilizing force within the local economy.?

Is there a lesson here for Metro Vancouver?

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