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As Long as We Remember...

September 20, 2012

What’s The Alternative to Waste-To-Energy?

Blaine R. Young

Why does Frederick County need a long term solid waste disposal plan? Here are some basic facts.


Since the county began transferring the residents’ waste out of county (2006), approximately 1.2 million tons of trash has been sent to Virginia and Pennsylvania landfills with little or no economic benefit to Frederick County. The service fees that Frederick County has paid to these out-of-state landfills, and the trucking companies, since that time totals more than $68 million. That's right, $68 million.


Frederick County is beholden to these out-of-state facilities. Without our own "in-county" waste disposal option, all of this money leaves the county and never returns.


The cost to truck and dispose of the county’s waste into out-of-state landfills is not predictable. The cost for this option has been as high as $74.47 per ton, while estimated costs for the Frederick County Waste-To-Energy facility is well below that figure.


What will the out-of-state rates be when they begin to run out of space and residents there begin to squawk about other state’s trash filling up their landfills? How far will we need to transport our trash in the future? North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio? At what cost to our residents?


A waste-to-energy facility will allow Frederick County to control its solid waste disposal destiny using in-county resources, thus freeing the county from the volatility of out-of-state waste transfer. It will also ensure that money spent by Frederick County to manage its residents’ waste stays in Frederick County.


Here are some additional thoughts on recycling that some people may not like, but the facts speak for themselves.


Frederick County will spend more than $6.3 million on its recycling programs. The curbside, single-stream recycling collection service only diverts about 25,000 tons (less than 15%) from the waste stream. The county spends about $3.6 million for this program’s collection contract. The value of these recyclable commodities has always been far less than the cost to collect and process them.


How many viable businesses would spend more than $6.3 million per year to make less than $1.7 million in their best year? How many years can that be sustained in the private sector? Not long, that’s for sure.


The $1.7 million in 2011 was the highest single-stream recycling value the county ever realized. Spending more than $6 million to realize a $1.7 million return is not sustainable; except, of course, when the government is involved and it makes us feel good. Right?


Consider years like 2008 when the actual net value of the recyclables was a negative $113,000. This is why the private sector does not offer free curbside recycling services. It’s simple math.


But does the high cost to provide this recycling have other benefits? Did it save landfill space? No! At least not in Frederick County landfill space since all of the locally generated trash is transferred to out-of-state landfills.


Who does benefit from the county's recycling programs? Is it local business? No! All of the county's recyclables go out of county, out of state, and, in many cases, out of the country to places like China that then benefits by producing products which are ultimately sold throughout the world – in particular in the United States.


So, you might ask why Frederick County subsidizes recycling which helps other countries compete with the U.S. companies to sell goods back to U.S. citizens. Is this sustainable? Does this help the U.S. economy? No.


But it is consistent with U.N. Agenda 21, a program that, when implemented worldwide, will inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all information, and all human beings in the world.


If Carroll County drops out of the waste-to-energy facility, Frederick County will have four options.


1.      Find a new partner – and fast.


2.      Downsize the Frederick County’s waste-to-energy facility to handle the current and future waste of its citizens, but only if the numbers work.


3.      Site a new landfill.


4. Scrap everything and start over from scratch. So far, this has been a four-year process.


Just some things to think about.


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