Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is garbage hauling sustainable?

Caveat: this is not a Recology problem even though they are the only named entity.

There are more than twice as many garbage trucks, 179,000, in the US as there are transit buses. These refuse hauling monsters get an average of 2.8 miles per gallon. Garbage trucks move at an average speed of 10mph, an incredibly inefficient pace for a combustion engine, but one that's necessary because of the garbage trucks duties. The average garbage truck guzzles 8600 gallons of diesel fuel a year. Together US garbage trucks use 1.5 billion gallons of fuel, about 4% of all the diesel used in the US, accounting for billions of dollars sent overseas. (from $20 per gallon by Christopher Steiner page 162.)

Now these trucks will also get to go load a train, with garbage from from the Peninsula to Marin, because we don't price out what we throw away. Senator Reid can fix this with a federal tipping rate fee of $100/ton. For the role of tipping fees see Understanding Dynamics of Landfill Gate Rates by Cary Pecket, page 32f. BioCycle, August 2009. Higher tipping fees enable business from recycling including home deconstruction. The money should go to Fish and Wildlife for enforcement of the Clean Water Act since a secondary problem of any dump is toxins leached into the water table.

The primary problem is garbage service as a mechanism to expand sprawl in existing polluted corridors; and roads into openspace, including the road to nowhere, which ends up creating a community by the dump (Steiner's point in the opening quote.)

Recology trucks in the Belmont area are biodiesel. But as Stanford Professor Jacobson showed, when their fossil fuel production component is factored in, biofuels are worse in most metrics.
Since Belmont just signed up with Recology (formerly Norcal) this article could be titled: Belmont boards for burial at Burning Man.

Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer

In the dusty Nevada desert, about 30 miles east of the playa where Bay Area artists and hipsters gather annually to build a temporary city at the Burning Man festival, a San Francisco garbage company wants to build a dump for Bay Area trash.

But a group of residents in the Winnemucca area, near where Recology seeks to build the 1-square-mile landfill, wants the company to leave the desert alone - and California to keep its garbage to itself.

"The notion that Nevada is some sort of wasteland because we don't have Ponderosa pines covering it is repugnant," said Jim French, retired wildlife biologist from the Nevada Department of Wildlife and a member of Nevadans Against Garbage, a group opposing the planned dump.

Article continues

No comments: