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dec home > wmd home > R3 > waste prevention > conference > breakout session notes

Breakout Session Notes:

General
Product Stewardship and Packaging
Construction Waste and Demolition Debris (C&D)
Organics
Education
"Out-of-The Box”


General

Themes
• What is the driving force behind waste reduction – is it quality of life?
• How do we shift our thinking to be more sustainable?

Most exciting or surprising thing learned in the morning presentations
• Even though Honda has reduced fuel emissions, efficiencies gained have been used for more consumption
• We need a systematic change in our thinking
• Create demand for sustainability
• CVSWD presentation on solid waste
• Inspiration and inspiring people

Success Stories
• AVR custodial cleaning supply project – they provided technical assistance to custodians in schools and were able to get them to change their practices thereby reducing HHW generation.
• Envision Act 125 (Legislation)
• Asking the tough questions – ask people why they don’t try to prevent waste generation as part of their lifestyle
• Green makeover
• Finding opportunities for people to practice Waste Prevention (instead of just talking about it….)


Barriers


Brainstorming
1. Collaboration between organization, reaching out, and leading by example (12 votes)
2. Explore European (and other) models of waste management (8 votes)
3. Market to diverse populations (age groups, interest groups, religion) (3 votes)
4. Need for more private enterprise success stories (like NRG & Hannafords) (3 votes)
5. Think of ways to get around institutional decentralization (3 votes)
6. Talk about reducing our “Carbon footprint” through waste prevention (3 votes)
7. Be open minded to alternative strategies (2 votes)
8. Make a reality TV show – “Green Makeovers” for individuals (1 vote)
• Explore happiness index, wealth, quality of life
• Problem of security vs. waste prevention (i.e. packaging for memory cards in stores increases the size of the item, discourages theft)
• Explore happiness index, wealth, quality of life
• Divert funding for Iraq war towards waste prevention strategies
• Waste reduction should be sexy and hip – think about marketing, advanced technology in small packages (ex. ipods)
• State needs an energy efficiency plan
• View waste as a verb (action) instead of a noun (thing)
• Evaluate the “True Costs” associated with waste management


This group then took the top two categories in the Brainstorming session and elaborated on those groups.

1. Collaboration/reaching out/leading by example
• Private enterprise – ex. NRG, Hannaford, food co-ops
• Reaching out to diverse audiences – religion, age based, and non-traditional audiences (ex. People who wouldn’t normally discuss topic)
• Keep up with ongoing forums to keep energy going
• Funding more non-threatening technical assistance
• State should lead by example (ex. Purchasing contracts)

2. Look into other models of Waste Prevention (ex. Europe, Alaska, “Island Mentality”)
• Research and determine how these can be applied to Vermont
• Hold future forums on the topics


Recommendations Regarding the Planning Process:
• Reach out to the business community – meet them at their businesses or where they meet, show financial benefits or rewards
• Hold more brainstorming sessions with different audiences
• On-going education effort
• Within government – explore extent to which silos make it more difficult to accomplish goals and communicate
• Connect waste prevention to climate change “the carbon cycle”

Product Stewardship and Packaging

Most exciting or surprising thing learned in the morning presentations

Success stories

Barriers:
• Lack of leadership
• Lack of authority
• Behavior
• How can consumers influence manufacturers in their product design? How can consumers drive sustainable design?
• No national approach
• Push back on taxes or bans

Brainstorm solutions/ideas (in priority order – including # of dots received)
1. Join forces with other states (internal and external) – 10
2. Incorporate Product Stewardship in the State Plan – 7
3. Start a Product Stewardship Council in Vermont – 4
4. Develop third party rating systems for environmental attributes (such as EPEAT for computers, LEED for buildings) – 4
5. Charge a packaging mill fee – 4
6. Require Carbon Footprint labeling – 3
7. Develop “Take-Back” legislation - 2
8. Develop a national approval process for product design and packaging - 2
9. Highlight groups that minimize and prevent at the national level such as grocers, beverages, and manufacturers
10. Create networks to disseminate information - 1
11. Fund the Product Stewardship Institute – 1
12. Require a point-of-sale “takeback” with a refund - 1
• Require cradle-to-grave lifecycle management plans
• Contract with an ad agency to promote sustainable manufacturers
• Incorporate product stewardship into state solid waste plan
• Establish product stewardship council for state of Vermont
• Implement packaging bill fee
• Support national initiatives
• Require Environmental Preferrable Purchasing (EPP) in state contracts, large institutions, etc
• Charge a waste fee to fund waste prevention initiatives
• Enact a landfill ban on electronics
• Support grassroots efforts (bottom up push from consumers)
• Convene meetings with manufacturers
• Investigate business incentives for reducing packaging
• Explore ASTM standards for repairing/replacement
• Support/incubate repair businesses
• Need a paradigm shift
• Increase awareness of the 3 Rs – REDUCE, reuse, recycle
• Establish packaging limitations or alternatives for businesses

Recommendations regarding the planning process
• Include provinces and states.


Construction Waste and Demolition Debris (C&D)


Most exciting or surprising thing learned in the morning presentations

Success stories
• There are opportunities to make choices when designing a building that result in less waste when being constructed or deconstructed in the future. Example – sealing concrete instead of installing tile; using building assembly techniques which make the building easy to dissemble.
• ReCycle North – Used by do-it yourselfers and small builders.

Barriers
• Getting contractors to use used building materials. Specifications, insurance, warranty issues may preclude builder reuse.
• Homeowners & builders are not aware that used materials are available. Need to see used materials being used. Need to make materials accessible.
• Not enough providers of used materials. Requires dedications.
• System for taking back materials is not developed. Example: contractor gives back sheet rock scraps to lumber yard that delivered material who in turn then gives it back to the sheet rock manufacturer.
• FREECYCLE & solid waste district swap sheds – folks don’t know about them.
• Builders don’t know about ReCycle North options and various levels of service like, deconstruction, soft strip or providing a trailer.
• Developing relationships between the organizations like ReCycle North and builders/contractors takes time, eventually will get to the large contractor.
• Building locations might be constrained, preventing placing multiple containers, may be hard to get to, hard to handle multiple materials.
• Waste hauler containers –options for multiple bin containers are not available

Brainstorm priorities - Solutions in order of priority
1. Enforce Act 250 permit requirement for waste reduction plans (maybe include waste prevention) – greater accountability to implement plans, not currently being enforced. Pass stricter laws that ban materials and C&D from landfills. Current laws are a place to start. (7 votes)
2. Mandate C&D diversion requirements and LEED certification for state buildings, universities and colleges. Be the leader even if slower at first. Require walk throughs. (4 votes)
3. Provide more pilot programs for specific materials that end up as C&D waste (4 votes)
4. Educate Vermonters about waste prevention/diversion options for construction and demolition. (3 votes)
5. Have suppliers take back excess materials such as sheetrock, shingles, asphalt, brick and concrete (ABC). (3 votes)
6. Continue to fund expansion and creation of retail outlets for used building materials and deconstruction services (2 votes)
7. Provide incentives for deconstruction and recycling – advance planning 2 votes
8. Provide guidance to small builders about their options – bring systems to more rural job sites. (1 vote)
9. Raise fees for C&D disposal and/or ban disposal of recyclable materials (1 vote)
10. Encourage clean wood separation and encourage uses that use post-consumer C&D lumber as fuel, such as biomass energy plants (1 vote)
• State funding to “Amp up” green building methods. Examples include:
1) Offer incentives for reducing footprint size (Home LEED/tax break)
2) Continue to support to organizations that reduce waste through diversion
3) Promote green building construction, lead by example and communicate options to public with a focus on folks who are hearing it for the first time.
• Require governments and others to adopt specifications that require waste management plans, deconstruction and building recyclability, and C&D recycling. Require any new construction or demolition (maybe larger projects at first) to have a waste management plan before permitting to build.
• Provide education/awareness programs to help people know about options like leaving materials out of construction to begin with, leasing vs buying materials, selection/specification of recyclable/reusable materials versus non.
• Require continuing education program for architects re C&D waste prevention/reduction as part of license and renewal
• Charge gas guzzler/impact fees for large buildings
• Expand and fund transfer stations efforts to separate C&D waste stream into lumber, sheetrock and shingles. Also SWAP reuse programs.
• Ban Disposal of specific C&D materials. Start with clean wood, mixed C&D, clean asphalt, shingles. Provide financial incentives
• Leave materials out of building when constructing such as finishes that make recycling & deconstruction more difficult and leave walls out for they are constantly being ripped down during renovations.
• Provide financial specifics
• Track what projects throw away
• Government pilot programs for source separated waste diversion
• Waste prevention technology
• Impact fees on really big houses
• Encourage suppliers to take back excess materials and advertise that it can be done
• Have the remover certify that building was soft stripped according to permit. Building inspectors could have broader responsibilities to include this.
• C&D should be recycled at transfer stations.
• Post consumer material should be sent to a co generation facility
• Have regional facilities to process C&D


Recommendations regarding the planning process– How should the state go about this planning process, who should be involved, what type of structure, how long should it take, etc.?


Organics


Themes

Most exciting or surprising thing learned in the morning presentations

•Donna’s talk inspired re-thinking opportunities.
•Legislative initiatives needed.
•Partnering and cooperation are crucial.
•Coalitions are possible even when some of the opinions or interests differ.
•Economics of waste reduction must be considered.
•Behavioral/motivational issues must be addressed.
•A culture shift is needed.

Success Stories

CVSWD is working with restaurants, grocers, etc. on a separation & diversion program for organics. Use regional compost sites.
•British Columbia – strict waste bans and product responsibility laws that result in practically only compostables left over.
•In-ground digesters for foodwaste, including meat and bones (“only in my back yard”) have been more successful than compost bins; 90% still using them 1 year later, and users realizing disposal savings. An unexpected result: Digester users have often not been recyclers – appealing to a broader group.


Barriers
•Fewer farms, nuisance concerns, ease and cheapness of disposal, permitting issues, NIMBYs.
•The prices paid to farmers are not adequate to cover developing new waste management innovations/infrastructure.


Brainstorming

•Involve more stakeholders.
•Pull in stakeholders such as business owners who may not be able to go to forums, etc.
•Consider having representatives from different sectors – e.g., grocery rep, restaurant rep, etc.
•Implement the existing state plan – waste prevention section not implemented.
•State should just take our list (above) and do it.
•Develop more specific action steps on waste prevention & make it a collaborative effort – state/district/private, etc.
•Those at the forum should suggest other stakeholders (specific individuals or sectors) via the waste prevention website.
•A landfill ban would promote new markets/players (challenges = developing the infrastructure & enforcing the ban)
•On-site solutions preferable where possible.
•Make organics a commodity, like restaurant grease (for biodiesel) has become/
•Organics make up 30% of the waste @ CSWD – an opportunity but getting them out of the waste stream is expensive and difficult.
•“Yuk” factor is an issue for organics recycling.
•All sectors should have opportunities for organics – renters, offices, etc.
•We are not talking much about prevention
•Incentives needed.
•Pay-as-you-throw incentive to reduce waste. At what level? Generator, hauler, etc.?
•Incentives for farmers to do composting?
•Training & re-training needed. Employee turnover, leader turnover (e.g. new school principal) can cause a well running organics separation program to flop.
•Must be convenient, but the ultimate convenience, curbside pick-up is expensive. Convenience and cost must be weighed.
•What organics wastes are preventable? Some opportunities (not over-ordering or over-defrosting for a restaurant, “seconds” bins in produce aisle to increase demand for less than “perfect” produce.), but there will always be food waste.
•There are restrictions on feeding waste food to hogs.
•Restaurants could have smaller portions, either for less money, or make second helpings available to reduce waste.
•Do waste sorts/audits at generators to identify what waste & how much is generated, and opportunities for reduction, composting and reduced disposal costs.
•Do we need waste prevention for organics, or is diversion (composting) more important?
•A deposit system for food packaging, with the money going towards infrastructure or incentives.
•The true cost of disposal is not being paid now (for example the environmental costs of trucking waste)
•Compostable packaging.
•Diversion of organics could reduce the need for landfills, and reduce gas and leachate at landfills.
•Need programs that get the most bang for the buck.
•Role for barter between farmers and generators, even on small scale – e.g. compost for eggs.
•Organics are heaviest segment of waste stream, so a weight incentive would be effective
•Promote link to global warming.
•Phase in ban and compost infrastructure.
•Get people to understand the value of organics – most people do not understand this.
•Link to reducing dependence on chemical fertilizers.
•“Food deposit” with money going to compost centers.
•Large scale aerobic digesters for organics, but capital costs very high.
•Emphasize cost savings from preventing food wastes; not only disposal costs, but the cost of buying the food only to throw it out.
•Legislate producer responsibility – e.g. agriculture film plastic – ship back?


Recommendations Regarding the Planning Process:

•Next State Solid Waste Plan should adopt Zero Waste Goals.
•Organics should be viewed as a resource, not a waste.
•Some prevention on organics is possible, but we also need to manage what is generated better – compost rather than landfill organics. Opportunities for prevention with perishables
•Landfill ban on organics (mandatory recycling of organics).
•Find money for organics infrastructure – for facilities at farms or other places.
•Preference for local solutions; avoid excess trucking.
•State should develop a searchable database to make it easy for generators and users of organics to connect. e.g., search for composters within 10 miles that want my brewery waste, or vice versa.
•More education & training is needed.
•Establish best management practices and provide assistance for organics generators like grocers, restaurants, etc.
•Look for non-traditional partners & funding sources.
•Incentives to reduce organics – Pay-as-you-Throw.
•Economics of separation, collection and composting must be considered.

Education

Themes
• Focus, Target, Reinforce, i.e. focus on waste reduction, target the school kids, and repeat the message.
• Pool resources and leverage existing programs.


Most exciting or surprising thing learned in the morning presentations
• The elementary children who insisted on composting when they got to the middle school.
• We need a systematic change in our thinking
• Create demand for sustainability
• NRG’s building a product with shipping containers in mind.

Success stories
• Hannaford’s canvas bag program
• Dunkin Donuts reduced price on reusable cups
• F.E.E.D. Food Education Every Day
• Bill McKibben’s efforts to educate people on climate change issues

Barriers

Brainstorming

1. Education programs for the elementary school kids -- Keep reinforcing the waste reduction message.
2. Marketing the waste reduction message to society as a whole
• Use PSA’s, web sites, to broadcast true cost of disposal forums ??
• Create a statewide database of success stories
• Link Waste Reduction to other issues such as Climate Change, Carbon Footprint
• Create alliances and pool resources
• Develop economic models: charge for waste at the front end, resource management contracts, illustrate the hidden costs
• Form public and private alliances
• Pass laws such as “Pay as you throw” which will mandate waste reduction
• Try to open closed minds, i.e. combat the “we’ve always done it this way” attitude
• Train younger children who can involve the whole family
• Mimic the anti-smoking campaign, model for the use of media i.e. truth.com
• Offer government grant monies for waste reduction programs


Recommended next steps for state:
• Reach out to the education community
• Hold more brainstorming sessions with different audiences
• On-going education effort


Recommendations regarding the planning process– How should the state go about this planning process, who should be involved, what type of structure, how long should it take, etc.?


During the lunch break, a group of “out-of-the-box” thinkers gathered to discuss several ideas and concepts. The notes from that group are provided below.

OUT OF THE BOX

• Converting status symbols – decoupling wealth with waste production. Promote a new image
• Center for the New American dream – look it up on the internet
• Shopping with your wallet – pick products that are environmentally preferable
• Kids are marketed to for stuff – need to market to the children need a sexy, hip, cool image
• Overcoming obstacles and barriers (need to educate and inform ourselves so we can share information – LEADERSHIP)
• Networking
• Listening is important
• Meeting of the generations – Gen X with depression era, lessons learned and lost. What are the good things from the days past?
• The sustainable hedonist – Bill McKibben – quality of life issue, living with less stuff does not decrease your quality of life
• Government as activists – is this possible? State government should take look at role as leader and activist.


VT DEC Waste Mangement Division 1 National Life Drive, Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138   Fax: 802-828-1011

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