Wanted: More Medwaste Info

I would like to see more articles on medical waste treatment facilities. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is inspecting generators and transporters. We need to know more about their program, what they are looking for and who they are looking at. Another area normally not publicized is mismanaged medical waste. Is there anyone documenting needle sticks and other contacts with potentially infectious waste that garbage collectors and landfill personnel experience?
— Lindsay Mothershed

Editorial Director's Response:

The DOT will not publish the medwaste regulations in the Federal Register until late October, and it will not discuss the regulations until they are published. However, we do plan to cover this topic once the information is released. In the meantime, we will continue to publish medwaste articles as space allows.

Praise For Solid Waste

How refreshing it was for me to read an article praising the solid waste and recycling industry [“Heroes or Sopranos,” Waste Age June 2000, page 42]. Thank you, Mr. Miller, for your efforts on our behalf!
— Amalia DeMatteo Donvito

Wrongly Stereotyped Sopranos

In Circular File “Heroes or Sopranos?” [Waste Age June 2000, page 42], Chaz Miller misses in his observations. Miller believes “The Sopranos” portrayal of a waste management business as a legitimate Mob front spits in the face of hundreds of honest garbagemen. As a recycler and fan of the show, I find this assessment ludicrous.

If Miller had bothered to watch any Sopranos beyond the episode he cites where Tony returns to one of his many illegitimate businesses at Barone Brothers Sanitation, he would see this stereotype, as he calls it, as relevant to the show itself as the fact that some actors portraying Italian-American mobsters aren't (gasp!) really Italian-American. The Sopranos use [the] garbage business as a euphemism for organized crime, not vice-versa.
— Joel Stevens
Nebraska State Recycling Association
Omaha, Neb.

The Author's Response:

The Sopranos explores the impact of change on a traditional Mafia familyman. One of the most significant changes in recent years has been the unrelenting legal assault on criminal activity in the New Jersey and New York City garbage and recycling business. Mr. Stevens would prefer to deal with this change by ignoring it, and then seeing a new Sopranos episode where Tony Soprano cheats a paper mill. I would prefer to see a new episode where Tony goes to jail and then struggles and fails to maintain a grip on his business from his jail cell. Our readers can choose which option they prefer in art and life.
— Chaz Miller

Incorrect Information

The Business Trend article “Terminating Video Monitoring Dumping” [Waste Age June 2000, page 8] leaves a lot to be desired. For your information, the only lead in a cathode ray tube [CRT] used for a TV or computer monitor is in the glass. Any typical landfilling of a CRT would release essentially zero lead to the environment. What is implied and the impression given by this story is wrong and ought to be corrected.
— Colin M. Jones
Captain U.S. Navy (Retired)
Honolulu, Hawaii

Right About Source Reduction

Congratulations on another great article by Chaz Miller in the Circular File column, “Can We Use Less Stuff?” [Waste Age March 2000, page 32]. The credit he gives industry for its source reduction efforts is well-deserved. We couldn't have achieved such success in waste reduction, especially source reduction, without it. Lightweighting of products and reduced packaging strategies only can be implemented by industry, and I agree with Miller that they have a lot to gain financially in the process. I have one question: How “little” is the impact of double-sided copying on the waste stream? I look forward to Miller's comments and, of course, to next month's article.
— Gina Hawkins
Recycling Coordinator
Gainesville, Fla.

The Author's Response:

According to the EPA, office paper is only 3.2 percent of the waste stream before recycling. Not all office paper uses are suitable for double-sided printing and unfortunately, when double-sided copying is botched, paper is wasted. The impact on the waste stream will be small. However, most businesses will spend less money on paper supplies if they encourage double-sided copying. That's a better reason than the impact on the waste stream.
— Chaz Miller

Problematic Plants

I am concerned about an item in the Haul Talk section of the June 2000 issue of Waste Age [page 48]. The item was described as “Attack of the Pollution-Eating Plants.” It appears that methyl mercury would be taken up by yellow poplar tress, which would “convert it into a harmless gas that can be released into the air.” As far as I am aware, there are no harmless mercury containing gases. This article appears to fall into the old doctrine that “the solution to pollution is dilution.”
— Jim Gwyn
City of High Point
Public Services Department
Highpoint, N.C.

Editor Speaks the Truth

Great Editorial column in Waste Age April 2000 [page 14] on the “Hometown Lowdown.” It's really Atlanta as I know it. Congratulations to Bill Wolpin.
— Ed Elliot
Elliott & Associates Inc.
Charlotte, N.C.

Not Trashing Paradise

I read with interest (and consternation) your article “Trashing Paradise” in the July 2000 issue [Waste Age page 16]. Mr. Shanoff finds the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter lawsuit ‘somewhat disingenuous’ because there are club outings to Hawaii. This year, there are seven limited-sized trips, and each ex-emplifies sustainable tourism criteria. Every trip provides a service (work) component to help alleviate the impact of human misuse of the environment. Each project is coordinated with a local governmental agency. Recent Sierra Club projects include trash pickup (a truckload at Hapuna State Beach), bridge painting and weed removal (at Haleakala National Park) and exotic plant removal (Molokai and Kauai).

I find the article inaccurate, misleading and slanted against Sierra Club environmental goals.

We all need to work together to reduce the pollution and degradation. Articles such as these are incomplete in details and only diminish those efforts.
— Ray Simpson
Volunteer Chair, Sierra Club
Hawaii National Outings
Santa Cruz, Calif.