David McBride, who is not a member, attended a meeting of the
council on Nov. 5 to seek its help in shaping proposed
legislation which he said he is currently drafting.
acknowledged that his effort is "in a very preliminary stage"
and that he does not expect the bill he introduces to emerge as
law in the form in which he presents it. Rather, what he has in
mind is to turn what is now a largely theoretical discussion
into serious public debate.
legislation gets introduced, it stirs public interest," he said.
"At the very least I want to take [present interest] to the next
level of discussion. ... The sooner the better."
recycling, he said, would require establishing a system for
curbside collection of recyclable material. For that to be
practical, it is generally agreed, trash-collecting firms would
have to be franchised to provide exclusive service in specific
said he and Representative Wayne Smith have tried previously,
without success, to legislative establishment of such districts
in New Castle County. Small independent collection firms have
opposed such an arrangement on the grounds it would favor the
larger local branches of national firms which, they feel, would
dominate the business if not take it over entirely.
legislator said he is inclined to think a mandatory-recycling
law should apply statewide, but that he is willing to consider
starting with more populous New Castle County and expanding it
to cover Kent and Sussex later.
Castle County Executive Tom Gordon has stated that he is not
inclined to get county government involved in the trash business
and County Council president Christopher Coons has said there is
virtually no interest among Council members in moving in that
council chairman Paul Wilkinson said a law is clearly necessary
to bring about the "significant culture change" required to turn
an ambiguous public attitude toward recycling -- a large
majority of people say they favor it, but, in Delaware only
about 6% of them do it -- into an effective program.
he said the process of forcing the change can and should begin
with a direct attack on lawn and yard waste. which he said
accounts for 12% to 15% of all waste and makes up the highest
volume of residential waste.
council has asked the Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control to "evaluate what it is going to take" to
use its regulatory authority to impose a ban on dumping that
kind of waste at the state's three public landfills. That would
force residents to "get rid of putting grass in the garbage and
[to] leave it on the lawn where it belongs," he said.
resources secretary John Hughes has not yet responded to the
council's letter, but Wilkinson said the council should press
for a ban to go into effect on Apr. 1, 2005. Between now and
then, he said, it should spearhead a publicity and education
campaign to garner public acceptance of the idea.
just keep talking and keep talking, it will be [target date]
time and nothing will be done," he said.
Perkins, of the natural resources department, told the meeting
that 20 other states place some sort of restrictions on disposal
of grass and other yard wastes. Perhaps the most effective, he
said, is Massachusetts ban, but that requires continuing
monitoring and inspection of waste loads being dumped and a
willingness to tolerate a small amount of creeping around the
Smedley, of Delaware Sanitation, agreed that enforcement will be
difficult -- especially in the early days of such a ban. "People
will hide it in their trash," she said, adding that is now a
relatively common practice with other contraband.
progresses, people will get in the habit of it. ... In the
beginning it is difficult, but people eventually accept it,"
said Steve Masterson, of Waste Management. "What you need is
education, legislation, transportation and destination."
Destination may not be as difficult a proposition as it might
sound. James Short, of the natural resources department, said
the department has been approached by two large firms involved
elsewhere in commercial composting seeking to set up for
business in Delaware. "We didn't look for them; they came to
us," he said.
Franke, of the University of Delaware, advocated educating the
public on the merits of backyard composting. However, she said,
Delaware, unlike some other states, has no regulations governing
such things as keeping food waste out of compost heaps to avoid
Delaware Solid Waste Authority had a composting operation
several years ago, but was forced to shut it down because it
created an odor problem, said Paul Canzano, who represents the
authority on the council. Although it is reluctant to commit
space dedicated to general waste disposal to composting, it will
not necessarily reject the idea of doing that at its landfill
sites, he said.
added, "if there are people in the private sector who want to
make a business of it and make money, why should we step into
-- operational costs offset by revenue generated by selling the
compost -- would be the determining factor, he said. Wilkinson
estimates that recycling lawn and yard waste through the present
trash collecting system would cost households an additional $2 a
suggested that, if the natural resources department is willing
to pursue a ban on dumping lawn and yard waste -- which is, by
no means, certain -- it should be asked to consider imposing an
open-ended ban. Such a regulation, he explained, would initially
list just lawn and yard waste, but could later be amended to add
other material without having to go though the entire cumbersome
there appeared to be general support from council members for
the proposal, a long and sometimes rambling discussion produced
no firm plan to pursue the ban nor take steps to implement other
proposals contained in a consultant's report on recycling
alternatives made public in October.
kept pressing for council members to propose specific actions
and assign target dates and deadlines to them. However, several
objections were raised to committing so firmly.
Department officials said the proposed 2005 target date for
imposing a ban on lawn and yard waste might be at odds with the
need to involve 'stakeholders' in the regulation-writing process
if, indeed, the department has the authority to impose such a
ban without accompanying legislation.
also some reluctance to proceeding with allying the council to
McBride's proposal for recycling legislation because the panel
was established by an executive order from and therefore
answerable to the governor and such a law is not among the
legislative priorities she now intends to present to the
Assembly when it reconvenes in January.
himself acknowledged some timing problems by pointing out that
mandatory recycling would require the building of a facility to
recover and process recyclables -- probably by the waste
authority at its Pigeon Point site. However, the authority is
not likely to commit to the necessary capital investment without
the existence of a law and collection system to guarantee it a
source of income from operation of the facility.