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New reports: Zero Waste strategies offer serious climate protection benefits

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  • Gagliardi, Mark
    FYI Mark Gagliardi City of Oakland Zero Waste Team From: stopincinerators-us-owner@lists.riseup.net [mailto:stopincinerators-us-owner@lists.riseup.net] On
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 25, 2009
      Mark Gagliardi
      City of Oakland Zero Waste Team

      From: stopincinerators-us-owner@... [mailto:stopincinerators-us-owner@...] On Behalf Of Monica Wilson
      Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:44 PM
      To: gaia-members@...; stopincinerators-US@...
      Subject: [stopincinerators-US] New reports: Waste reduction, EPR, recycling, and climate change


      Dear all,

      Last week the US EPA released a new report showing how waste reduction and recycling reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. Below is the EPA's press release, and below that is an article from the New York Times website. You can find the report here:  


      Also, the Product Policy Institute released a report on the same day calling for Extended Producer Responsibility to reduce climate impacts of waste: http://www.productpolicy.org/content/climate-change-epr

      Both of these reports should be useful in making the point that we need to PREVENT waste, as a first priority.

      Thanks, Monica

      Cathy Milbourn

      Sept. 18, 2009

      Recycling and Land Reuse Practices Can Help Fight Climate Change

      WASHINGTON There is much potential to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gases through recycling, waste reduction, smart growth, and by reusing formerly contaminated sites including brownfields.  

      EPA’s report “Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices” finds that 42 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by materials management policies. This includes the impacts from extracting raw materials, food processing, and manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of products. Another 16 to 20 percent of emissions are associated with land management policies. That includes emissions from passenger transportation, construction, and from lost vegetation when greenfields are cleared for development.  In addition, the equivalent of 13 percent of U.S. emissions is absorbed by soil and vegetation and can also be protected or enhanced through land management policies.

      Some of the materials and land management activities that have the potential to decrease emissions include:

      reducing the use of non-packaging paper products
      increasing municipal recycling, and recycling of construction and demolition debris
      reusing land, including redevelopment of formerly contaminated lands
      reusing formerly contaminated lands for renewable energy development
      encouraging smart growth

      The report suggests that land management and materials management approaches should be part of the nation’s toolbox to meet the target of an 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

      More information on the report:  http://www.epa.gov/oswer/publication.htm  


      September 21, 2009, 8:11 am
      E.P.A. Reports Suggests Waste Reduction and Recycling Reduces CO2 Emissions

      By John Collins Rudolf

      E.P.A. A new E.P.A. study examines the greenhouse gas impacts of the way Americans obtain, deliver and dispose of goods. The full report, including this chart, can be found here.

      A new report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests that way Americans procure, produce, deliver and dispose of goods and services — what the agency refers to as “materials and land management” — accounts for 42 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

      The study took stock of the emissions generated by land use, food and product production across the entire life cycle — from resource extraction (think mining, agriculture and forestry) to manufacturing, packaging, transportation and ultimately disposal.

      The report breaks from conventional analyses of greenhouse gas emissions, which typically focus on sectors such as transportation or electricity generation, and according to Joshua Stolaroff, a former science and technology policy fellow with E.P.A.’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and the report’s lead technical author, it suggests that emissions savings from waste reduction, recycling and improved product design can be significant.

      “These are things that were essentially considered small or zero in terms of how important they are to the climate change mitigation toolbox,” said Mr. Stolaroff.

      Doubling the recycling of construction and demolition debris, for example, would result in an emissions savings of 150 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, equal to the entire annual carbon emissions from the state of North Carolina, the study found.

      Reducing product packaging by half could also reap significant benefits – as much as 105 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Increasing the lifespan of personal computers by 25 percent, meanwhile, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 15 million tons of per year.

      “Extending the life of products in general is probably a huge opportunity,” said Mr. Stolaroff.

      The E.P.A. report was released in tandem with a similar report, also written by Mr. Stolaroff, from the Product Policy Institute, a non-profit group focused on promoting sustainable production and consumption. In the Product Policy Institute report, Mr. Stolaroff, citing statistics from his E.P.A. report on the carbon impact of products and packaging, pushed for state, local and federal government adoption of “Extended Producer Responsibility” laws, which hold manufacturers responsible for the afterlife of their products.

      Similar laws have been adopted in Western Europe, Canada, and other countries. In the United States, a number of states and New York City require electronics manufacturers to pay a fee for the future disposal or recycling of their products.

      Advocates for increasing producer responsibility also seized on the E.P.A. report as proof that stronger policies were needed to reduce waste and bolster recycling. “This just verifies what we thought all along,” said Heidi Sanborn, the executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council, a non-profit advocacy group.

      “Manufacturers need to reduce the lifecycle cost of their products.”

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