Life on Trantor

February 13, 2009

In Isaac Asimov’s science fiction classic Foundation trilogy the planet Trantor was the center of the universe and the home-world of mankind. The planet was—to put this mildly—overdeveloped. The entire planet was enveloped and continuously covered by building construction. In the thinnest and least populated areas the skin was 20 stories thick.

What an arrogant and thoughtlessness concept!

We treat the planet Earth with the same thoughtless arrogance. It is as though the Earth is an inexhaustible resource and will take whatever abuse, exploitation and poisoning we care to inflict upon it. We are unconscious of any balance in nature.

A Pause for Reassessment

I began this mission (tilting at windmills notwithstanding) with the clear idea that we can easily create a minimum of a million new American jobs doing simple recycling. I discovered early in my research that it’s already paid for… I’m sorry, let me say that again. The money to pay for a million new American jobs doing basic sort and recycle already exists, and is already being paid in the tipping fees consumers pay at the dump.

But the game is this. The money goes to a mega-bucks corporation to bury the garbage, to bury the jobs.

Burying recyclable material in a landfill is not really a crime. We have this throwaway mentality in our culture; and we’re nearly proud of it because it’s representative of our affluence and our arrogance. There’s something else though, something that I’ve stumbled upon that should give us all the chills.

The recyclable material is a cover. It is a mask for pouring into the ground a river of poisons. You can write all the laws you want about proper disposal of hazardous materials. There is no enforcement and no oversight. The robbers are the cops.

The eBay Initiative

Clearly now my mission has leapt beyond creating a million new American jobs. I’ve also taken on a rather more important mission, to end the polluting.

With that in mind I’ve started to sell my childhood comic book collection on eBay. Just to test the waters I put up about 25 books from my “Journey Into Mystery” collection (early Kirby monsters and “smiley” marquee Thor). Okay, so I made about $600 from this effort. That will buy a lot of postage stamps!

Right now I’ve got to write letters. I need to draw attention to the idea that we can create a million new American jobs—a mission that will pay for itself—and have the ancillary benefits of stopping the dumping of poisons into the ecosystem.

Who would be interested in such a concept? Where should I send the letters? What should the letters say?

At any rate, I’m tickled by the concept that I can sell my comic collection and save the world. There’s a real-life plot stranger than fiction!

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. In my real life I am a semi-retired dog trainer; blogging at http://budhouston.wordpress.com/ and web at www.dogagility.org/.

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I’m working on a list of materials that are acceptable at landfills; materials that are acceptable with conditions of preparation; and materials that are not accepted at all. If anybody reading these lists would like to add anything, I continue to be a student and I would be happy to accept your input.

Municipal Solid Waste

It’s important to note that everything in this list is recyclable. It’s fascinating to me that the “most approved” list shouldn’t be put in landfill at all, and should be recycled.

  • Cannery waste (less than 10 percent moisture)
  • Cardboard, boxboard
  • Dirt, concrete, asphalt, construction rebar, rocks
  • Dried empty paint cans
  • Empty containers
  • Fabric, clothing, textiles
  • Food and food products
  • Furniture, carpet
  • Glass, porcelain, ceramics
  • Non-contaminated cleanup rags
  • Paper (newspaper, office paper, paper products)
  • Plant residues of agricultural origin
  • PVC plastic, plastic
  • Roofing paper, shingles (non-asbestos)
  • Rubber products
  • Sheetrock, drywall
  • Styrofoam
  • Tin
  • Yard trimmings, wood waste

Special Wastes

This list is interesting. Some of these items are not approved at some landfills or they are subject to additional fees. The list is for the most part composed of completely recyclable materials.

The problem is complicated by this one sure fact… for the most part the landfill industry has zero oversight on the question of compliance. While proper preparation of materials may have a statutory regulation, the regulation is mostly unheeded and not enforced.

  • Tires
  • Non-friable asbestos shingles and siding is acceptable if wrapped in heavy plastic, taped, or otherwise secured for special burial (friable asbestos is not acceptable’ for disposal)
  • Any metal, plastic, or glass containers used for liquid or powder chemicals must be processed by rinsing and draining, or some other approved decontamination method. Otherwise, containers must be empty, opened, and dry
  • Triple-rinsed empty pesticide containers
  • Medical wastes (if rendered not infectious via autoclave or other approved treatment method). No red bags, sharp medical instruments, or containers allowed with evidence of effective treatment.
  • Dirt and other construction wastes may not be contaminated with chemicals or other hazardous material or hazardous wastes.
  • Empty containers (i.e., aerosol cans, paint cans) or containers with dry materials (i.., solid paint)

ACCEPTABLE HAZARDOUS WASTES

The following wastes are generally considered to be hazardous wastes and are acceptable for disposal at most landfills. Typically procedures for disposal are available from the scale house attendant. But once again we are caught by the obvious conundrum: the landfill industry has zero oversight on the question of compliance.

  • Motor Oil
  • Oil Filters
  • Car Batteries
  • Refrigerators

TYPICAL WASTES NOT ACCEPTABLE AT LANDFILL

The following wastes are generally considered to be hazardous wastes and are not acceptable for disposal at most landfills.

I’m sorry… the landfill industry has zero oversight on the question of compliance. While prohibition of materials may have a statutory regulation, the regulation is mostly unheeded and not enforced.

  • Lubricating oil
  • Abrasive cleaners and powders
  • Acid sludge
  • Adhesives, glues, cements
  • Aerosol cans containing any pressure or fluid
  • Air reactive or water reactive solids or liquids
  • Air-conditioning refrigerant
  • Alkaline caustic liquids
  • Ammonia-based cleaners
  • Ammunition, gun powder
  • Ant and roach killers
  • Antifreeze
  • Any solvents or acids, other than water
  • Ash (incinerator waste)
  • Auto body filler
  • Automotive cleaners (carburetor cleaner, chrome polish)
  • Automotive Supplies
  • Batteries, battery acid, corrosive battery fluid
  • Bilge water
  • Bleach cleaners
  • Boiler cleaning waste
  • Building. Paints, and Woodworking Supplies
  • Bunker oil
  • Butane lighters
  • Car wax and polish
  • Caustic sludge and wastewater
  • Chemical fertilizers
  • Chemical toilet pumpings
  • Chemistry sets
  • Cleaning solvents or acids
  • Clothing and chemical dyes
  • Compressed gases (flammable or non-flammable)
  • Corrosives
  • Data processing fluids
  • Disinfectants
  • Explosives
  • Flammable gases, liquids, or solids
  • Fluorescent lamps with ballast and tubes
  • Fly ash
  • Freon gas
  • Friable asbestos
  • Fuel additives
  • Fungicides
  • Furniture and floor polish
  • Garden and Pet Supplies
  • Gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel wastes
  • Glue, cement
  • Grease and rust solvents
  • Hair permanent, colorant, and straightener solutions
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides (organophosphates)
  • Kerosene, lamp oil
  • Lime and sulfur sludge
  • Liquid enamel, latex, acrylic, and water-based paints (dried solids are acceptable)
  • Model glue and paint
  • Mothballs and flakes
  • Nail polish, polish remover, cuticle remover
  • Oil ash
  • Other Waste
  • Oven cleaner
  • Oxidizers, organic peroxides
  • Paint or varnish remover, strippers
  • Paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits
  • Pesticides
  • Pet care products (flea powder, tick powder, shampoo)
  • Pharmaceuticals (chemotherapy drugs)
  • Photographic chemicals and solutions
  • Pickling liquor
  • Plating wastes
  • Poison gases
  • Pool chemicals
  • Printer ink
  • Radioactive wastes
  • Rat, mouse, and gopher poisons
  • Resins, fiberglass, epoxy (dried solids are acceptable)
  • Rubber cement thinner
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners
  • Rust paints, metal primers
  • Shoe dye, polish and paste
  • Snail and slug poisons
  • Soda ash
  • Soil fumigants
  • Spot removers
  • Stains, finishers
  • Starter fluid
  • Sulfonation oil
  • Tanning sludge
  • Thermometers with mercury
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Transmission and brake fluid
  • Used chemical solutions (cyanide, used acids)
  • Used motor oil and gear lubricant
  • Wood preservatives (creosote, penta-chlorophenol)

Complexity of the Problem

February 5, 2009

Sort and recycle sounds like a sublimely simple proposition. Just take everything, sort it into stacks, and send it off for recycling. Right? Well, it truly is not that simple.

Think about it this way, putting anything back into the raw materials stream creates a product lifecycle with it’s own processing and movement parameters. On a high level materials include: glass, plastic, paper, wood, metals (to give the short list). And within each of those genre are a variety of types. Plastic, for example, might be divided into eight distinct types, each with a unique material life cycle.

And not everything that enters the sort and recycle operation will fit into a high level material group. Complex items are those things that need to be dismantled. Complex items would include things as diverse as washing machines and water heaters, cell phones and personal computers, mattresses and sofas.

Working towards an objective goal of 95% recycling is entirely in the realm of possibility. And yet it is a logistical behemoth that is staggering in scope. And yet the more widespread the acceptance and implementation of the grass roots sort and recycle operation; the more the scale of operation will be able to assume any logistical hurdle.

Regards,
Bud Houston
Waterford, Ohio

First Steps

January 28, 2009

Someone said once that the longest journey begins with a single step. I’ve been very slow getting started here because the journey seems so long and daunting.

So today I made a start, writing my very first letter… an email actually to the Mayor of Marietta, Ohio, Michael Mullen. I will keep a chronological file of correspondence so that I can look back over the whole thing in a couple of years and discover who were the champions and who weren’t.

I’m also going to start doing some eBaying today. I need a bit of cash money to get started. Heck, I need money just to buy postage stamps. I need to send out thousands of letters. The first step is doing a bit of fund raising so that I can bring some movers and shakers into the effort and do the first proof of concept (hopefully right here in SE Ohio where we have a terrible unemployment problem). I reckon it’ll cost $250,000ish to start an operation that will generate $25 million in local salaries over the next ten years.

Regards all,
Bud Houston

Inspiration

January 6, 2009

greentrash

I have to tell you a story of inspiration that has taken 37 years to turn into action. When I was in the Marine Corps and based in Okinawa I pulled garbage duty one day. We loaded up the camp trash and took it to the nearby dump operated by the local folks. This was very unlike an American dump. The truck backed up to a long line of tables. On either side of the tables were more than a dozen workers wearing what looked like little cloth surgical masks, and gloves. The garbage was tumbled onto one end and pushed down the line. Each person on either side of the table pulled out bits and put them in stacks or bins behind them.

Okinawa, you see, has few natural resources. To their point of view our garbage was an excellent source of all kinds of metals and plastics and paper that they had no natural means of production. What left the tables on the far end was maybe 100th of the mass that started the trip. I imagine that they buried that last bit.

In all of the years since then the notion has stayed with me that we could be doing a much better job of recycling. What we do today in this country is a pretend effort. It is marginal.

It is my intention now to change the way we dispose of refuse in this country by starting a system of dump-yard direct recycling. The benefits of the program will include:

· More than a million new jobs in America

· A vast reduction in land-fill mass

· An end to buried poison

I’m semi-retired, and the last thing I really need is a new job. However, I am unsettled with the terrible on-going damage to our environment; and I would love too see a robust new industry that employs a lot of Americans.

Regards,

signature-copy

Bud Houston
The GreenTrashJobs Project
14543 State Route 676,
Waterford, OH 45786
740-749-3597;
BudHouston@hughes.net