Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A stinky subject still needs to be addressed

The city has once more stepped into an issue which doesn't need to be corrected, this seems to be an addiction as of late with our elected city leaders and those employed by the city. My trash gets picked up on a normal basis and I hold out my aluminum for recycling. About the only item in my trash that could possibly be recycled is my one gallon milk containers and I would gladly recycle those if I knew of a place to drop them off at.

I understand the city runs 4 recycling centers which all are losing money and much like our ice skating park is subsidized by the taxpayers. What do these two entities have in common ?? Both were sold to the public that they would be self supportive and years later they still haven't achieved the status of being able to stop the entitlement pool from everyone that lives, works, and visits this city.

A stinky subject still needs to be addressed

Of course, we don't recycle like we should.

It's too much trouble for most of us. Even if we have curbside recycling, we're afraid our dogs will get in it, or we simply just don't want to be bothered.

The 124,000 tons of trash we sent to the landfill last year doesn't matter in the larger schemes of most of our lives, even though the recylables could be turned into valuable products. If we cared more, we wouldn't have to haggle as much about where we're going to locate the next landfill (Not In My Backyard, as you know, is all we care about).

If we cared more, we may not be facing whether to consider flow control, as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed us to do in a recent ruling, where all city trash haulers would have to use the city's landfill. Forcing all trash to go to Springfield's landfill would finance one heck of a solid waste program -- recycling sites for yardwaste we have no place else to sling; re-use of materials so we don't have to find new places to bury it; hazardous waste collection for killer chemicals we don't want in our water supply.

Figuring this out has been the charge of the Citizens Solid Waste Committee: Twenty-one people gathered around conference tables in the large meeting room in the Busch Building since January, many trying to learn trash collection and disposal issues they didn't know much about before.

What they have before them is daunting: They have disparate fears yet respect for each other. They are charged with planning a future for all of us. They don't want to offend, yet they want to protect: Their companies. Their environment. Their livelihoods and ... our lives.

Having attended most of their meetings, I can say with authority: The progress has been about the speed of driving a mule-drawn plow through a foot of mud.

Some of the problem has been that the large haulers and the city still distrust each other. They all want to reach a workable plan for the city, but each has a strong dog in the hunt. Some of the haulers don't want to be forced to go to the city landfill because that reduces their ability to be competitive. They can often do better economically by hauling to another landfill out of town.

Other haulers are scared of some of the city officials' talk of "franchising" the hauling business, awarding the city's trash hauling business to only some companies, supposedly to save wear, tear and traffic on our roads.

Now, coordinators of the solid waste committee have recognized the committee's plodding pace and have tried a new approach: They've broken the large group into two: one to deal with how the city should deal with recycling, the other to discuss "put or pay." You may not have heard of that term before. It means that a hauler commits to "putting" a certain amount of waste to the city's landfill, and if the hauler does not meet that commitment, the waste company pays the city for trash not brought.

One group will study "put or pay," and the other will look at recycling issues.

This is a good thing. Verbal agreements between the city and large haulers seem to be a sticking point. The two don't agree on how much haulers have committed to put into the landfill (nothing was in writing), and city officials have a differing viewpoint on how much the large haulers are bringing even now.

Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver, a former trash business owner himself, thinks it would only take 10-12 percent of what the haulers collect to keep the landfill healthy. Dan Hoy, who manages properties for Bass Pro Shops and will serve on the "put and pay" subcommittee, wants more open discussion between participants than what's been going on in the big meetings, and he wants to broker some kind of "put or pay" agreement with the large haulers.

Hoy hopes to find common ground among the haulers and the city "for the greater good and not the lesser evil" of flow control. "Flow control stymies and controls free enterprise." He's right. If we can run our trash business better than we have and protect businesspeople, it's worth all the effort we put into these discussions.

A lot of us think we don't have an interest in what we decide about all the poop we produce. Yes, we do. We all do. We reduce the nasty chemicals going into our water supply, the acres and acres of country land taken up with stinky landfills that some people have to live near and junk shoved into the landfill that could be used for new products. It's a cycle of life -- one we've ignored for too long.

Sarah Overstreet's column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She can be reached at 836-1188 or soverstreet @news-leader.com.


Sky Girl said...

Buy glass bottles of milk that can be returned for a deposit. It supports a local dairy (Fordland has them) and then you won't have to figure out what to do with your trash.

tom said...

Actually we have been purchasing Braum's milk since it is the closest thing I can recall in taste to milk from the cow. I have however found a dairy in Mt. Vernon that does sell "natural" milk and will therefore be purchasing milk in glass bottles.
However the rest of my trash will still continue to be placed in the dumpster for haul away.
Unlike most people I try to the fullest to practice what I preach which is why our family doesn't dump chemicals of any kind down the sink.

Sky Girl said...

Not dumping chemicals down the sink is a good plan. What do you do with unused or expired medicine? I have some I'm trying to get rid of.

tom said...

We don't have any in our house or at least nothing that is synthetic. We have went the natural route with herbs and the like.

I wasn't only talking medicines though look at your dish washing liquid, the laundry detergent, spot removers, shampoos, creme rinses, conditioners and anything else you use to keep your house, clothes and body clean.

Sky Girl said...

And yet you don't recycle? Did you know that the chemicals from those plastic containers, etc. leach into the soil and ultimately into the ground water just like the household products do? In fact, they don't go through any water treatment as sewer water does, so it's actually a more direct leak into the groundwater.

tom said...

plastic milk jugs only break down while in direct sunlight, just like those plastic bottles that many people drink water from. In the dark underground the plastic remains much the same.

Since we've started to purchase natural milk over the weekend we no longer have to worry about plastic containers from our house going into a dump.

Many of you still need to be concerned about what gets flushed down the toilet since you will be drinking it soon enough.

Ever wonder why conditions such as autism and many other diseases are on the fast track to epidemic conditions ??? What do all these people really have in common besides food and water.

Sky Girl said...

Genetics, weird fertility drugs, viruses, undiscovered unknowns, and yes, probably contaminants.