This month's waste age contains several stories about the intersection between global warming concerns and the solid waste industry. I suspect that we will be seeing much more of these kinds of pieces in the future, as the political will to address global warming continues to build on the local, state and federal levels.
On p. 6, our lead Tip Off story details comments submitted by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) to U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The comments are intended to provide recommendations from the solid waste industry as Congress begins to consider ways to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While stating that the industry already has achieved significant emission reductions, SWANA says that “even greater GHG reductions” can happen by way of “more extensive energy recovery and recycling of municipal solid waste.”
Also in Tip Off, on p. 10, is a piece about how the Lancaster County (Pa.) Solid Waste Management Authority, through its membership in the Chicago Climate Exchange, recently traded GHG emission reduction credits to an organization in the United Kingdom. Another Tip Off article examines the total conversion to alternative fuels by the subsidiaries of Norcal Waste Systems that service San Francisco.
Each month, it seems, we come across evidence that the industry is growing ever more concerned about the health of the planet. In last month's issue, new Veolia ES Solid Waste CEO Richard Burke told Waste Age of his desire to further embrace environmentally friendly practices. “We need to get ‘greener’ as an industry and also as a business,” he said. “So, I'm looking at some emerging technologies: biodiesel to cut down on carbon emission, hybrid trucks. We have to figure out at what point we jump into the mix and begin to integrate those into our business.”
Also, David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, is part of a group of Fortune 500 business executives and retired senior military officials who are urging the federal government to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil by, among other things, providing financial incentives for the production and purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles and encouraging the growth of demand for biofuels.
Future legislative efforts to curb GHG emissions and promote the use of alternative energy may understandably focus on the automobile industry and power plants. However, the solid waste industry has an important role to play in reshaping the way our nation consumes and uses its natural resources.
After years of keeping our communities tidy and healthy, it's time for our industry to help clean up our planet in another way.
The author is the editor of Waste Age