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Fwd: Comments on Fairfax, CA (Marin County) Zero Waste Resolution

Dan Knapp asked me to forward these comments to this listserve.  I don't agree with all that is said below, but welcome the dialog for us to sharpen our thinking on how we communicate about Zero Waste for the future.


Cc: crra_members@yahoogroups.com,
To: Gary Liss <gary@garyliss.com>
From: Mary Lou Van Deventer <marylouvan@urbanore.us>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 16:58:58 -0800
Subject: Re: [CRRA] Fairfax, CA (Marin County) Passed Zero Waste Resolution on 3-7-07

Respected colleagues -

Congratulations on another Zero Waste goal passed! 
But many readers of the accompanying rhetoric will be confused, as we were, by the either-or/one-best-option logic that is embedded in but not argued out in the post's succeeding discussion.  This is not the first place that Zero Waste has been presented as an alternative to and replacement for recycling.  The either-or framing is clear in ?recycling is not the solution to our long-term problems.?  [Our bolding.]  This confusion first appeared years ago, and it sets up an unnecessary conflict within the collection of industries that we have and will become.  It?s a PR trainwreck.  Maybe it was first devised by Karl Rove and has been inserted into our discussions as disinformation.  It is either an unintentional framing glitch or sophistry to implant this change of mind without clear argumentation. 
Let the issue be joined, again. 
There is no ?the? single, easy, magic-bullet solution to our complex problems, and watch out for anybody who suggests any such thing.  There is only a complex of solutions, and all are required for success. 
Zero Waste is NOT EVEN A NEW IDEA.  Rather, it is a long-awaited _expression_ OF THE ORIGINAL 3-Rs HIERARCHY ? a development of the first R in the structure that we have for thirty years called ?Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.?  It?s about time somebody started working on it as a career; and although it?s late to the party, it is still welcome, as it has been always. 
But the latecomer may not rudely insult the first-comers - just take a piece of pie and be friendly.  We refer to facile thoughtless slogans such as ?recycling is so last century? and ?recycling is so end-of-pipe? and ?recycling can?t do it all by itself? and even ?recycling has failed.? 
Let us all appreciate Recyling, the first urgent _expression_ of our original Zero Waste dream from 1970, the past and future replacement for wasting after Reducing and Reusing have done their work. 
We have known for decades that our whole movement began by bending the end of the resource-flow pipe and is now working upward.  The first development: we bent the pipe away from wasting for cans, bottles, and paper to let the clean refined resources flow back into production feedstock ports instead of into the landflll.  So now that part of the resource pipe has no end!  We are still working on bending the pipe for many other categories of discards. 
And DON?T CALL THEM WASTE!  Unless they get wasted. 
This is not a mere catch-phrase, not ?just semantics.?  Terms of the trade are a critical conceptual framework that structures thinking, and if recyclers don?t know it, the garbage industry and their trade associations certainly do.  They say so to each other on their websites and in their explicit instructions to each other for how to use terminology.  Waste is precisely what resources are not!  Garbage really is manufactured from otherwise recyclable resources.  Surely you know this by now.  Why suck up to the wasters by accepting their framework, which undermines ours?  Our industry is bigger than theirs, and better, and is the future. 
The wasting industry is the only one whose pipe has an end. 
We worked up the pipe to Reuse.  There?s still a lot of work to do there, too, as Urban Ore knows well.  WHEN we expand Reuse, its market niche is to remove objects from the discard supply going to Recycling.  Nobody should whine.  This market position is built into the Reuse, Recycle part of the hierarchy.  Recycling will still be necessary for discarded resources that cannot be reused. 
AT LAST we are working farther toward the beginning of the resource-flow pipe to Reduce discards and asssure that they are nontoxic and recyclable.  We will protect the Earth?s wild places, virgin resource supplies, air, land, and water by making manufacturers redesign products to use recycled feedstocks; to use nontoxic feedstocks; and to be repairable and recyclable.  One METHOD of achieving these objectives is to make manufacturers take responsibility for their products at the end of their useful life.  WHEN the products are finally discarded, as they will be, THEY WILL STILL NEED RECYCLING, which may require dismantling, sorting, sending to diverse markets, ALL THE THINGS WE RECYCLERS DO. 
NEXT we can look at mining and forestry practices.  Those industries waste so much of the Earth that their problems dwarf the post-consumer flows.  Some recyclers may think this work would get into another field, but that?s just a question of where the joints are in THE ONE GREAT BRANCHING RESOURCE PIPE. 
Of course, all of the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling industries have begun this work of reducing the impacts of mining and forestry by starting at the only end the resource pipe has ? the landfill ? and bending it back into production intake ports.  But the end of the pipe was only the beginning of our work. 

We mustn?t let ourselves be misdirected by letting anyone introduce any either-or-ness into our long-cherished vision of resource circles. 

Reducing + Reusing + Recycling = Zero Waste
Let?s move forward ? follow the Reducing path while developing the Reusing and Recycling paths, especially the Recycling subset of composting.  Let?s be sure municipalities provide us with land for growth, and with the ability to compete with wasting by collecting variable service fees to underwrite our beneficial and beneficiating replacements for mining technologies.  Let?s be sure the resource-based manufacturing regulations and discard-fee structures encourage Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.  Wasting should always be the most expensive disposal option. 
There?s so much to do to keep bending the pipe! 
Dan Knapp and
Mary Lou Van Deventer
PS - The modern Zero Waste Movement originated in Canberra, Australia, in a government bureau that fashioned the first Zero Waste Goal for Parliament to pass, which it did.  They focused initially on materials recovery, on providing space for businesses to dry up the flow of resources to two local landfills, which were located, as they are here, at the headwaters of two of the only creeks this extremely dry area has.  They built big resource recovery parks, including buildings dedicated to reuse and other forms of recovery.  They called them ?purpose-built resource recovery estates.?  We are going to Australia next month and may visit Canberra to see how they are doing.  If we do, we?ll keep you posted. 

On Mar 8, 2007, at 11:06 AM, Gary Liss wrote:

Apologies for Cross-Postings

From: "Bruce Baum" <b-baum@comcast.net>
Subject: Fairfax Passes ZW resolution
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2007 10:00:09 -0800
Some positive news from Fairfax??..Last night at the town council Fairfax became the first Marin town to adopt a Zero Waste by 2020 Resolution (attached): Mayor Larry Bragman introduced the resolution for approval. Vote was 4-1
For more information I can be reached at 707-459-5859
Bruce Baum
ZW Citizens Advisory Committee
Some quick points on ZW that were made last evening:
Zero Waste is a philosophy and a design principle for the 21st Century. It includes 'recycling' but goes beyond recycling by taking a 'whole system' approach to the vast flow of resources and waste through human society.

Zero Waste maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace. http://www.grrn.org/zerowaste/
·         In 2002 CIWMB adopted a goal of Zero Waste as one of it?s guiding principles http://www.zerowaste.ca.gov/
·         Cities and counties around the state have adopted ZW resolutions including model programs in SF & Palo Alto Most municipalities in the Bay Area have also adopted ZW resolutions and strategies. (Oakland recently passed theirs).  None in Marin! Gary Liss      
Fax: 916-652-0485


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