November 13, 2009

Recycling goes from less waste to zero waste

The New York Times reports, that across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as zero waste is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations. 


... at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.


But places like the island resort community of Nantucket offer a glimpse of the future. Running out of landfill space and worried about the cost of shipping trash 30 miles to the mainland, it moved to a strict trash policy more than a decade ago, said Jeffrey Willett, director of public works on the island.



The town, with the blessing of residents concerned about tax increases, mandates the recycling of not only commonly reprocessed items like aluminum, glass and paper but also tires, batteries and household appliances.

Mr. Willett said that while the amount of trash that island residents carted to the dump had remained steady, the proportion going into the landfill had plummeted to 8 percent. By contrast, Massachusetts residents as a whole send an average of 66 percent of their trash to a landfill or incinerator.
When apple cores, stale bread and last week's leftovers go to landfills, they do not return the nutrients they pulled from the soil while growing. What is more, when sealed in landfills without oxygen, organic materials release methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, as they decompose. If composted, however, the food can be broken down and returned to the earth as a nonchemical fertilizer with no methane by-product.


Post a Comment