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Monday, January 27, 2014

Caroline Eader a Champion for Zero Waste

George Wenschhof

Caroline Eader
A big thank you is due Caroline Eader who has strongly advocated against the costly and ill advised construction of the Waste-to-Energy (Incinerator) facility in Frederick County, Maryland to handle solid waste disposal.
She has now pointed out there is an "out" to the contract for Frederick County government that will also avoid the widely circulated $3 Million fee for cancellation - see below section from the contract.
(B) Failure of Conditions.  If by the fourth anniversary [January 21, 2014] of the Contract Date [January 21, 2010] or such later date upon which the Authority and [Wheelabrator] may agree, any Construction Commencement Date Conditions in Section 4.3 hereof are not satisfied or waived either party ... may, by notice in writing to the other party, terminate this Service Contract;...Except as set forth herein, neither party shall be liable to the other for the termination of this Service Contract pursuant to this subsection, and each of the parties [NMWDA and Wheelabrator] shall bear its respective costs and expenses incurred in seeking to satisfy the Construction Commencement Date Conditions set forth in Section 4.3 hereof.
The need for termination of this agreement is emphasized by the understanding the partner county in this costly endeavor; Carroll County, has made it known they will not be participating in this project.
I first met Ms. Eader around the end of 2007 or early 2008 following the "infamous" power point presentation by Frederick County government on the benefits to building an Incinerator.
The word infamous is in quotes because it was obvious to me, who at the time was a layman on the subject, that the presentation had been slanted to support the building of an incinerator.
No reasonable comparison was given to expansion of the existing landfill or construction of another landfill.  Nor, was any consideration given to the county government embracing the concept of "zero waste" and the impact this would have on the size needed for a future landfill.
Zero Waste was a new term for Frederick County residents at the time. Advocates Caroline Eader, Karin Tome and others have worked diligently over the years to educate Frederick County residents on the benefits and the necessity of following zero waste principles.
In an effort to shine more light on the options available to the disposal of solid waste, I provided two of the Frederick County commissioners the opportunity to share their opposing views through a series of columns I published on my Blog;
The columns written by Commisioner Jan Gardner (D) who favored the construction of the incinerator and Kai Hagen (D) who opposed it, in August and September 2008, can be read here. 
On November 25, 2008, I followed with a column where I advocated for a cost benefit analysis where I conclude saying: "It would then follow that what is needed is a cost analysis of an Incinerator with a smaller complementary Landfill. Also needed would be a cost analysis of an appropriately sized Landfill supplemented by an increase in recycling and "zero waste" methods - this option would also include the construction of a Materials Recovery Facility and Resource Recovery Park. 
There is a cost associated with both which would be clearly seen after figures were plugged in for these options. It would appear a cost-benefit analysis of these two options would aid the elected officials and the community in this difficult decision making process."
This was obviously not done and another five years have passed without resolution to the disposal of solid waste for Frederick County.  Instead, the county has continued the costly and inefficient method of trucking the waste out of state.
Interestingly, since that time, I had the fortune of spending time on the west coast where I witnessed first hand zero waste practices in place and extremely effective in communities.
It was common to see a 3-Bin system; one for trash, one for compost/yard waste and one for recycling.  The trash bin was a pay as your throw system that was simply based on the size of the bin used.
Bottle deposit fees were also common place and in Oregon, it was common to see large fully automatic containers situated along the outside walls of grocery stores for residents to drop off their bottles and receive their money.  The machines would also crush the bottles and this was picked up on a scheduled basis. 
During my recent interview with Caroline Eader, she also shared a letter that was sent by the Zero Waste International Alliance to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, thanking him for beginning to use the term "zero waste", while also correcting him that he could not support the concept by continuing to pursue incineration of solid waste in the state.
I was most intrigued with the "Ten Year Bridge Plan to Zero Waste", I received from Caroline Eader that was developed by Eric Lombardi of Eco-Cycle.  This plan provides a guide for how communities can transition their waste disposal systems from landfills and incinerators to recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction.
This is a reasonable strategy and one the Frederick Board of County Commissioners should pursue.
Stay tuned.

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