In a previous MSW Editor’s Blog, I passed along a question one of my Editorial Advisory Board members voiced regarding the fate of waste and recyclable materials managed by or turned over to private operators: “Why don’t municipalities make accurate accounting a contractual requirement?”
I didn’t get any feedback, making me wonder if I am tilting at windmills again. So I’ll pose the question again, adding to it another of my wonderings…Isn’t this fundamental to the premise on which solid waste management is founded: public health and safety?
The backdrop to this is that the public places in our hands the responsibility for managing materials that, were they left untended, would seriously compromise the quality of life within an urban environment. While the materials themselves may be handled, in part or whole, by private-sector contractors, the public sector cannot outsource its fiduciary responsibility for the fate of these materials, whether through disposal or diversion.
Subtitle D holds our feet to the fire when it comes to landfill disposal, and a host of air-quality regulations do the same with WTE, but when it comes to recyclables, all too often we find ourselves trusting to the good intentions of those in whose hands we place materials, content to take their money while reaping whatever diversion credits apply.
Is this what the public expects when it places its materials in our hands? I don’t think so. Even if no greater expectation of MSW management than its scheduled disappearance from in front of the house is involved, the fate of those materials is in our hands until they no longer represent a threat to public health and safety, no matter on whose turf the threat exists…ours, China’s, or the denizens of the bottom of the deep blue sea. So this leads to another question: “If not by proper accounting, how can we guarantee the proper disposition of recyclables once they leave our hands?”
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
January 26th, 2012
5 Steps to Creating a Successful Public Outreach Campaign
Change starts with people. Whether your focus is stormwater pollution, energy conservation, pavement restoration, or recycling, a successful public outreach campaign resonates with your target audience and leads to long-lasting behavior change. Join Erica Hooper of SGA to explore a proven 5-step approach to crafting a successful outreach campaign based on real-world examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Read more…
February 9th, 2012
Differentiating & Monitoring Groundwater Plumes
Threatened by various plumes of mobile contaminants, urban potable groundwater resources require groundwater professionals to not only determine the source of individual plumes, but apportion the contributions of multiple sources within a composite plume. Join William G. Soukup, P.G. of Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC to discuss the analytical and interpretive techniques for differentiating plumes and their sources, as well as tips to improve long-term plume monitoring and management. Read More...