Now Flowing

Summertime is the perfect time to go to the moview to forget your troubles and enjoy someone else's. And just because you're in the garbage business, don't assume the motion picture industry has left you off its list for an exciting series of blockbusters.

Soon appearing at a theater near you is at least one of several new pictures with a solid waste plot.

T3: California Dreaming. The Terminator is back, but this time he's planning to obliterate the Golden State of solid waste. Playing the lead role in this high-action drama is the California Integrated Waste Management Board, whose recent strategic plan calls for its citizens, businesses and industries to aim toward a “zero-waste California.”

Although the goal is to achieve a system where all waste is recycled, composted or reused, even “zero-waste” advocates acknowledge this will be difficult to accomplish. Why set such high goals?

To provide a clear vision of the state's intended direction, says CIWMB Board-member Mike Paparian.

You may see trailers (or trucks) this summer for the next nail-biter, but Emission Control: Houston We Have A Problem won't officially appear until October, with Part II scheduled for 2007. By October 2002, newly manufactured diesel engines must release half of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions produced today without increasing particulate matter (PM). The problem is to meet those requirements, engine makers largely have turned to cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) technology, which decreases fuel economy by 2 to 6 percent, requires more complex cooling systems and fluid, and may lead to more breakdowns.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, some fleet managers are accelerating their truck purchases now to avoid buying the less-polluting, but more expensive, engines after the rule goes into effect. But the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC), has said that “with little information available on engine performance, fuel economy and price, many fleet buyers are withholding orders.”

If this plot isn't thick enough, the 90 percent emissions reductions, mandated for 2007, will make the movie sequel even more complicated. Some say the technology to reduce NOx and PM simultaneously will not be developed in time to meet these regulations. And, even if low-sulfur diesel fuel and exhaust after-treatment devices are the answer, can manufacturers install this system without minimizing fuel economy, performance and drivability?

Sound interesting? Just wait until the lights come on and the real work begins. You get the picture.

The author is the editorial director of Waste Age