Letter to State Board 2016

BURNT

 

13 May 2016                                                             Please Distribute and Comment 

 

The Honorable

Stacy Cothran

Chair

Tennessee Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Control Board

 

Dear Chair Cothran

 

BURNT appreciates the opportunity to be part of the solid waste policy process by submitting comments to the Board on ‘Objective One’ by TDEC of the ‘2015-2020 Solid Waste Management Plan’.  TDEC has been open and generous with information.  The link to the Plan is   2015-2025  Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan.    

It is 25 years since the 1991 State Solid Waste Act.  There are unexpected challenges.  Solid waste numbers are not accurate because major businesses shield their waste streams under proprietary status granted by the 1991 Act.  Tennessee landfills Class III/IV construction waste which other states recycle.  TDEC states there is 3.1 pounds per capita per day recycled in 2012 and EPA states there is 1.51 pounds of recycling and composting per person per day nationally in 2012.  Tennessee definition of solid waste is significantly different from EPA (Plan, pg. 38)    State Board members can contribute:

  1. Businesses and institutions are allowed to keep their waste stream secret or proprietary.  (Plan, pg. 53) (Section II, below)
  1. Not all counties can use the “Annual Progress Reports” to report information by residential commercial and industrial generators.”  (Plan, pg. 35) 
  1. TDEC definitions of solid waste differ from EPA  (Plan, pg 38)  TDEC should define solid waste the same way as the national government agency.

BURNT is concerned with the marked discrepancy between the EPA solid waste figures for 2012 and TDEC figures for 2012.   An independent audit is needed to examine the TDEC solid waste assumptions, the results of programs, and likely future outcomes.   We  appreciate comments on this material

Thank you

Bruce Wood

President

615-327-8515                                                                              burnt.tn@gmail.com

P. O. Box 128555 Nashville (327212)                                                             www.burnt615.com                     

                                    Printed on 100% Tree Free Paper—TREE®PAPER                                                  

  1. Review of Objective One—Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)   Solid Waste Plan
  1.         Having a State Plan is a positive step.  We have in writing the central assumptions of the state and parameters for future directions.   
  1.       The Link to the Plan is: 2015-2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan

 

Objective 1 “…establishes more robust solid waste management goals, to more accurately measure the disposition of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) and to better assess progress toward those goals.” (pg. 59, Plan) 

  1. There are 8 objectives in the 2015-2025 Solid Waste Plan
  2. ‘Objective One’ creates recycling numbers.

   

  1. A fundamental flaw of ‘The 2015-2025 Plan’ is that no section evaluated the quality of life of people in the State—education, income, health, smoking, and job satisfaction.  Tennessee quality of life is low.  In the Gallup Poll-Healthways Survey we are ranked 37th among states after years of being in the mid-40’s among states in quality of life.  This must be factored in when evaluating recycling and composting programs, performance of leaders in solid waste, and why there are few protests over landfills.  Any major study would have a section like this.
  1. Waste Stream
  1. Specific numbers provided     (2012)
  1. Disposed waste in Class I landfills  5,710,987 tons (Plan, pg 31 & 38)

           

  1. 4.85 pounds per person per day (Plan, pg. 31)
  1. Disposed waste in Class III/IV landfills 1,429, 956 tons (Plan, p. 31)
  1. 1.2 pounds per person per day (Plan, pg 31) (estimated)
  1. Recycled waste is 3,609,241 tons (Plan, pg. 38)
  1. 3.1 pounds per day per person
  1. Total waste stream is 10,750,184 tons (Plan, p. 38)
  1. Per cent of Tennessee solid waste landfilled—66.67%–7,140.943 tons landfilled out of 10,750,184 ton waste stream.
  1. U.S. EPA National Averages for 2012
  1. On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds per person per day in 2012 . EPA, Trends in Municipal Solid Waste in 2012

                           b. Individual waste generation was 4.38 pounds per day per person

U.S. EPA, Trends in Municipal Solid Waste in 2012

                            c. Nationally, 53.8% of MSW was landfilled

U.S. EPA, Trends in Municipal Solid Waste in 2012

  1. TDEC has significant  data problems
  1. “TDEC has very limited information about commercial, institutional, and industrial waste and little authority to obtain data.”   (Plan,  pg. 53) (Data Collection, below) 
    1. The 1991 Solid Waste Act allows commercial, institutional,    and industrial generators to keep waste streams secret and propreitory (Plan, p. 53)
  1. “While the Annual Progress Reports request information by        residential, commercial, and industrial generators, not all counties/ Regions are able to provide this information.  Therefore, Tennessee does not have current reliable information pertaining to the portion of waste generated, disposed, or recovered by sector”.  (Plan, p. 35)
  1. Class III/IV landfill data have very explicit goals for diversion of waste but with no baseline it is not possible to establish a quantitative goal for the future.  (Plan, p.62)   
  1. Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) prepare solid waste for marketing to end user manufacturers.  There is no mechanism in place to require MRF’s to report recycling data (Plan, p. 52, 53) 
  1. Recycling     The 2015-2025 Plan states that in 2012 there was 3,609,241

Tons of waste recycled out of a 10,750,184 ton waste stream or 3.1 pounds per person recycled per day.  (Plan, pg. 38)

  1. The EPA found “On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds out of our individual waste generation rate of 4.38 pounds per person per day.  Trends in Municipal Solid Waste in 2012,  EPA

    1. TDEC appears to have inflated the waste stream and recyclables
  1. The difference in the TDEC and national EPA waste streams apparently has Tennessee waste stream including easy to recycle material which does not need much processing to go to market (Plan, see pg. 38)
    1. TDEC should define exactly how recycling created such  figures that Tennessee recycling doubled the national average in 2012 and what products were recycled 
  1. Is landfill cover that is re-used every day counted separately each day?  Total of this recycling
  2. Which companies recycled what raw materials?   
  3. What products were created
  4. What was recycled
  5. Be much more explicit than “commercial” and “privately” generated waste—how much ‘commercial’ ‘private’’, and ‘residential’ waste. 
  6. What were the sources of recycled waste? (Plan, pg. 38)
    1.   Define distinctions between TDEC definition of solid    waste and EPA—
  1. EPA stated that in 2012 the national average for recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of waste daily rather than 3.1 pounds daily as TDEC stated (see recycling below)
    1. The 2015-2025 Plan stipulated that TDEC has a different definition of solid waste than

EPA (Plan, pg. 38)

    1. TDEC reported in 2012 that disposed waste of 6.05  pounds per person daily in Class I and Class III/IV landfills and EPA reported national total waste generated per day per person as 4.35 pounds. 
      1. Tennessee disposed more waste per person per day than the entire waste stream per person per day nationally.

COMMENTS:  This data included on the Annual Progress Reports (Plan, p 35) (II, Data Collection. below)   The TDEC recycled waste which would not be considered MSW by the US EPA.  There was, and is, virtually no composting in the state.  Claiming 3.1 pounds per day of recycling per person in 2012 calls for much more, substantial documentation when the national average per person per day by the EPA was half of that or 1.51 pounds per day.  TDEC has serious problems with reporting waste (Plan, pg. 35, 53) (II, Data Collection, below).  Landfilling 66.67% of the waste in Class I landfills (5,710,987 tons) and Class III/IV landfills (1,429,956 tons) out of a waste stream of 10,750,184 tons leaves little material to recycle. 

The state of Tennessee created part of the problem of solid waste statistics by granting immunity to business, commercial, and institutions for reporting waste.  TCA 68-211-871(c(d) allows any company to refuse a request from a Region for an annual solid waste report.  TDEC should consider how to neutralize business support for this law and then go to the Legislature.  Very few businesses have genuine concerns about revealing competitive secrets through solid waste. 

A comprehensive audit of TDEC solid waste figures is needed.  From local reports to TDEC processing of Annual Progress Reports, important issues of accountability and clarity should be examined.

  1.     Data Collection
  1.   Inadequate Procedures and Process

                      “1.  Commercial, Institutional, and Industrial Programs” (Plan, p. 53)

TDEC has very limited information about commercial, institutional, and industrial recycling programs, and little authority to obtain data.  Many private businesses see recycling data as proprietary”.      (Plan, p. 53—emphasis added)

 

Proprietary data does not make for a good, public report

  1. The solid waste of a business should not be proprietary. 
  1. Solid waste is hauled on public roads, is often landfilled at government owned landfills, and can have a public health impact. 
  2. This is a body blow to solid waste planning.

  

      B    Commercial, industrial and institutional wastes can be 40% of the waste stream.

  1. TDEC has little information about 40% of the waste stream from commercial, industrial, and institutional and little authority to obtain this information.                           
  2. Regions may not even try to get a complete picture of solid waste.   TCA 68-211-871(c)(d) allows any business to refuse to provide a Region solid waste information and the Region can only go to court to prevail. 

C.  Inaccurate Data May Cause Under or Over reporting

  1. Business solid waste reporting is proprietary
  1. Regions may go  to recyclers or landfill companies to get figures
  1. Accuracy when a landfill or recycling company reports for the company that refuses is not clear.   
  1. Business decision to treat solid waste as proprietary under the 1991 Solid Waste Act may shrink or expand the reported waste stream. 

                 B.   INACCURATE LOCAL NUMBERS—Excerpts From the Plan

 

  1.   “C.  Waste Disposed By Source” (Plan, pg. 35)

 

While the Annual Progress Reports request information by residential, commercial, and industrial generators, not all counties/regions are able to provide this information.  Therefore, Tennessee does not have current, reliable information pertaining to the portion of waste generated, disposed, or recovered by sector.”  (Plan, p. 35—emphasis added)

 

  1. The Annual Progress Reports, the primary instrument to gather solid waste    information, do not create accurate information.
  1. “…Tennessee does not have current, reliable information pertaining to the portion of waste generated, disposed, or recovered by sector.” (Plan, pg 35)
  1. TDEC wrote “As reported by APRs [Annual Progress Reports] from local governments…an estimated 34 percent of the MSW generated in the State is recycled across all sectors or diverted from all landfills, including Class III/IV”. (Plan, pg. 62)
        1. The above statistic is based on a flawed reporting mechanism.
          1. Quoted above, from page 35 of the Plan “Tennessee does not have current, reliable information pertaining to the portion of the waste generated, disposed, or recovered by sector.” (Plan, p. 35)
          1. If Tennessee landfills 2/3 of the MSW—Class I and Class III/IV combined—how does that leave room to recycle 34 percent?
        1. Claim that recycled waste in 2012 is 3,609,241 tons (Plan, p. 38) depends on waste definition significantly different from EPA (Plan, pg. 38)
  1. The ‘2015-2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan” does not demonstrate the recycling programs to recycle 3,609,241 tons out of a waste stream of 10,750,184 tons.

                       1.Tennessee has a unique definition of the waste stream

  1. A risk is that these admittedly incorrect numbers–from APRs–, will be considered proof that TDEC has met solid waste goals. 
        1. Class III/IV Landfills Have Data Problems because no scales and because they are filling an unneeded mission. 
        1. Material Recovery facilities are key to recycling but do not report.    [pg. 52-53]

TENNESSEE DATA PROBLEM SUGGESTED SOLUTION:  Not accepting a national definition for solid waste such as EPA creates major problems for people outside of TDEC and credibility issues for TDEC.  TDEC takes a big step by self-reporting this significant data problem.  However, the severity of problems with TDEC solid waste numbers and relationship to future goals call for an independent audit.  Businesses claiming proprietary nature of solid waste creates a large hole in the solid waste statistics.  Regions and counties can go to recycling or landfill companies to get solid waste information for non-reporters but this adds imprecision.  By all accounts, institutional interests such as a large hospital or a university are among the non-

reporters.  This was not anticipated by the 1991 Act.  TDEC should compile a list of these non-reporters and develop a protocol for dealing with them including the area Chamber of Commerce, board members on the Tennessee Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Control Board, and business peer pressure.  Eventually, the strategy would lead to release of names to the public and efforts to overturn or modify the law in the legislature.

   

IV         “Municipal Solid Waste Under local government control” 

  1. Recycling built around waste collected by or generated by the local government counts–(page 62, 2015-2025 Plan) 
  1. “A state wide recycling goal would have to focus on the MSW that falls “under local government control”, since generally only recycling of material under local government control is reported to the state”. (Plan, pg. 62)
  1. “MSW “under local government control” is defined as MSW disposed by residents and the [the waste disposed by] local government agencies themselves”. (Plan, pg. 64)
  1. TDEC writes ” although only a fraction of the MSW generated in the State is controlled by local governments, this is the MSW on which state and local governments can have the most influence.”  (Pg. 64, Plan) 

    

    1. Please see #7 below to understand that “municipal solid waste under local government control”  is not the only alternative
  1. The Proposed Program
  1. “Local governments will encourage waste reduction of MSW generated by

businesses and institutions within their jurisdiction through policies, education, infrastructure, and financial incentives/disincentives based on their particular situation.  TDEC will provide technical assistance and other

resources to assist local government in these efforts.  (Plan, pg. 64)

  1. Reality for Local Governments
  1. Very few local governments collect business waste and many do not collect any waste including residential
  1. Local governments often combine two jobs such as Planning Director and Zoning into one person.   Who is going to provide solid waste “…policies, education, infrastructure, and financial incentives/ disincentives” to business and residential waste generators?
  1. Local governments and their associations have consistently resisted a larger role in solid waste. 
  1. “Local Governments shall demonstrate through Annual Progress Reports that they are progressing toward a 40 per cent recycling rate of the materials they control by 2025.”  (Plan, pg. 65)
    1. Annual Progress Reports are problematic.  “While Annual Progress Reports request information by residential, commercial, and industrial generators, not all counties/regions are able to provide this information.  Therefore, Tennessee does not have current reliable information pertaining to the portion of the waste generated, disposed, recovered by sector”.  (Plan, pg. 35)
    1. TDEC goals are doubtful.  Even with landfilling 66.67% of waste in Class I  and Class III/IV landfills, TDEC can demonstrate proximity to 40 percent recycling.    
  1. TDEC claims to recycle 3,609,241 tons of MSW in 2012 or 3.1 pounds per person per day when EPA in 2012 said national average was 1.51 pounds per person per day recycling and composting. (Plan, p. 38)
  1. In 2012, TDEC claimed the state reached 47 per cent waste reduction/

diversion rate (Plan, pg. 48)

               

    1. TDEC demonstrates an on paper solution to recycling which leaves intact landfill interests and local government agencies.

.

      1. ‘Municipal solid waste under local government control’ is an expedient way to camoflauge non-compliance with solid waste diversion
    1. How will state and local governments track all those waste streams
    1. It introduces an entirely new layer of supervision and record keeping which local governments have avoided

                

      1. Local governments have shown a strong reference for landfilling which is perceived as quicker, cheaper, and neater for the local government.       
      1. Please note underlined  #7 below which suggests alternatives to

      Municipal solid waste under local government control’

  1. Asking local governments to assume additional responsibilities for new solid waste policies based on a flawed Annual Progress Report is quite optomistic.  Local governments and their associations have consistently resisted a larger  role in solid waste. 
    1. TDEC states that ‘municipal solid waste under local government control’ is the solid waste that state and local governments  can have the most influence (Plan, pg. 64)    
    1. A state wide recycling goal would have to focus on the MSW that         falls “under local government control”, since generally only recycling of material under local government control is reported to the state”. (Plan, pg. 62)
  1.   Alternatives to “municipal solid waste under local government control”
    1. Concentrate on the 10-12 largest counties in population for recycling and composting.  This would reach at least 50% of the state population in counties with resources, labor pool, and infrastructure to significantly reduce waste.  Gradually expand to next largest population centers.
  1. This has been suggested several times including by TDEC’s

Solid waste consultant

    1. Anchor solid waste around composting—60% of the waste is compostable.   School food waste, residential food waste and yard waste, restaurant, and paper composting       

         

    1. Develop detailed models for urban, sub-urban, and rural counties with recycling, composting, and school waste each factored in.  TDEC provide expertise and consulting.   
  1. TDEC writes “Currently, an estimated 34 percent of the MSW generated in the State is recycled across all sectors or diverted away from all landfills, including Class III/IV, as reported in the Annual Progress Reports (APRs) from local governments”. (Plan, p. 62) 
    1. This demonstrates how close TDEC is to saying we have reached the 40% goal.
    1. Well documented inaccuracies of Annual Progress Reports and TDEC data undercut this claim (Plan, pg. 35, 53)
    1. Discrepancies among local, state, and national governments about what is solid waste apparently inflates amount TDEC claims to be recycled (Plan, p. 38) (EPA, archived report, 2012)
    1. Tennessee statistics are contaminated by Industrial, commercial, and institutional claiming proprietary status of waste.  (Plan, p. 53)
    1. Tennessee might be generating significantly more solid waste than thought
  1. Waste generated and recycled are at extreme variance from

national averages, with a different definition of solid waste.

  1. Recycling and waste management have no constituency in Tennessee.  Local governments have resisted any effort to increase their involvement in waste.
  1. Multi-national landfill companies are a wealthy and important source of influence. 
  1. Opportunities to count waste to be landfilled can be manipulated
  1. As long as TCA 68-211-861 remains in force no reform will happen. 
    1. TCA 68-211-86l stipulates that the goal of the state is to reduce by twenty-five per cent the amount of solid waste disposed.
    1. Penalties for not reaching 25% diversion: the Department will do a qualitative review similar to what the Department does for Regions which do not meet the goal for waste diversion.

  

    1. Local governments are immune to pressure
    1. The drafters of this legislation crafted mediocrity.     

COMMENT  ‘Municipal Solid Waste under local control’.  TDEC inflates current and future programs by saying in Point 5, above, by projecting ““Local Governments shall demonstrate through Annual Progress Reports that they are progressing toward a 40 per cent recycling rate of the materials they control by 2025.”  (Plan, pg. 65)

  1. How do we know Annual Progress Reports will be straightened out by then?
  1. How will TDEC be able to evaluate the numbers in the 100           largest cities and counties inn a trustworthy manner?

                             

  1. Is there a will and ability in Tennessee to recycle and compost?

  V.  The Waste Reduction and Diversion Goal (Plan, pg. 48)

  1. “Tennessee’s current waste reduction and diversion goal pertains to reducing the amount of waste disposed at Class I Landfills on a per capita basis, relative to a base year”  (Plan, pg. 48) 
  1. “When looking at the portion of MSW recycled/diverted relative to disposed, the state achieved a waste reduction/diversion rate of 47 per cent in 2012”. (Plan, pg. 48)
    1. 47 per cent for landfilling in Class III/IV landfills and purported recycling is an apples and oranges statistic
    1. Again, TDEC presents a dubious accomplishment of how close we are to success

             

  1. The meaning and process of the waste diversion program is defined in the 2015-2025 Plan. Diversion is landfilling waste in Class III/IV landfills (See Plan, pg 38, 48, 49).  Waste reduction is recycling.

                                                              

    1. By all appearances, recycled waste is counted several times—first as recycled and second as waste reduction
    1. Recycling statistics are produced by the same discredited TDEC data information
  1. Annual Progress Reports (APRs) which made it impossible to develop “…current, reliable information pertaining to the portion of waste generated, disposed, or recovered by sector” (Plan, pg. 35, above, pg. 4)
  1. Discrepancies between Tennessee and EPA definition of solid waste should be a serious concern.  Tennessee needs to be part of a national standard for measuring solid waste. (Plan, p. 38)
  1. Failure of industrial, commercial, and institutional interests to file waste reports. (Plan, pg.  ) (

///////////////

4     In recent years, half the counties and regions have not reached the annual diversion goal.  Significant bureaucratic steps are taken to rescue under achieving counties and Regions

  1. Additional research,
  2. analysis of ‘real time’ using current MSW   diversion and disposal data)
  3. qualitative assessments are made.
  4. One to four counties annually did not pass  (Plan, pg. 49)

5.     Apparently, this same negotiating and clarification process takes place when local governments submit their Annual Progress Reports on recycling and landfilling.

COMMENT—TDEC takes a cue from TCA 68-211-861 in manipulating county reports on waste reduction through qualitative assessments. It is difficult to understand the linkage between recycling and landfilling in Class III/IV landfills.  How many times and ways can we count recycling?  Creating a 47% number out of unsubstantiated recycling and landfilling in Class III/IV landfills is not responsive to the situation.  TDEC writes   ”Currently, an estimated 34 percent of the MSW generated in the State is recycled across all sectors or diverted away from all landfills, including Class III/IV, as reported in the Annual Progress Reports (APRs) from local governments”. (Plan, p. 62)   BURNT questions this statistic

          1. Tennessee landfills 66.67% of waste
          1. there are no substantiating details of what waste was recycled, what products were made, who did the manufacturing, and how was the recycled material extracted from the waste stream.

       V.     Class III/IV Landfills

      1. Tennessee has 34 Class I Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, 45 active Class II landfills,  55 active Class III landfills for construction waste, yard waste, and farm waste and, 11 active Class IV landfills which are similar to Class III. (Plan, 44-45)

     2  There are no scales at Class III/IV Landfills.

     3.Tennessee is the only state to give credit for construction waste landfilled in   Class III/IV landfills.      

“c)  (1) A county or region may receive credit toward the waste reduction and diversion goal established by this section for documented reductions from recycling and source reduction programs prior to 1995, but no earlier than 1985. (TCA 68-211-861)”

     4.  40 Class III/IV Landfills were built, following passage of the amended TCA 68-211-861. 

5         Tennessee Uses Class III/IV Landfills to Warehouse Waste

                   That Other States Recycle

                           Experts in Tennessee and Nebraska On Recycling Construction Waste

“…that 75 percent of C & D waste generated in 2011 was diverted from disposal; over the past 10 years the diversion rate for C & D materials has averaged greater than 80 percent.” (pg. 4, Solid Waste Plan 2040, Lincoln and  Lancaster County)

“The decline in [landfilled] tonnage since 1994 is largely attributed to increased levels of recycling of the concrete, asphalt, and metal from C&D waste streams as

well as waste exports.”( Id , Pg 4)

“As noted in the Needs Assessment, it was estimated that 75 percent of C&D waste  generated in 2011 was diverted from disposal; over the past 10 years the diversion rate for C&D materials has averaged greater than 80 per cent. (Id., pg 5)

“A C&D waste landfill is basically a facility designed to store or entomb materials                                    discarded by society.  While considered least preferred on the waste management hierarchy it is often the lowest cost per ton option to manage C&D waste that is not otherwise diverted from disposal by source reduction, recycling, or other alternatives.  (Id, pg. 5)  Solid Waste Management 2040” for Lincoln and Lancaster Counties in Nebraska,

6.  In a 2007 Study on recycling construction waste and composting, the Tennessee State University/Middle Tennessee State University Study found on construction waste

“The goal of proposed legislation regarding Tennessee’s C&D waste stream should be straightforward:  C&D waste will not be land disposed unless it first passes through a state certified C&D waste processing/recovery facility.  Experts in the field suggest that imposition of this pathway to disposal would result in 70 percent reduction in land disposal of C&D.   Based on generation estimates this translates into the diversion of 1.8 million tons of C&D waste from Tennessee’s Class I and Class III/IV landfills”

Pg. 24, Diversion of Organic, Construction, and demolition Material Wastes From Tennessee Class I and Class IV Landfills , 2007, Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University  (emphasis present)

Both Nebraska and local study in Tennessee found that Class III/IV wastes can be recycled, reused, and diverted out of the landfill  The Nebraska article pointed to “…increased levels of recycling of the concrete, asphalt, and metal from C&D waste streams” for high rates of recycling.     

7.  The Plan does not say that Tennessee Class  III/IV landfills are sources of recyclable materials (Plan, pg. 45)

VI.         RECYCLING

  1. The most frequent phone call BURNT gets is “We moved to Nashville from [Texas, Missouri, Oregon, Ohio, ..…].  Why is it so hard to recycle in Tennessee?”
  1. We have seen the frequent claims of success by TDEC such as

                      

  1. 34 per cent recycled (Plan pg. 34, above),
  2. 47 percent diverted through recycling and landfilling in Class III/IV landfills (Plan p. 62  Page, 11, above)
  3. local governments are progressing toward 40 per cent recycling of the materials they control according to the Annual Progress Reports (Plan, pg. –, pg. 8, above)
  1. Two questions in light of the recycling said to take place in number 2, above
  1. How can all this recycling take place in a state                          which landfills 2/3 of its waste (66.67%)?
  1. Are we counting recyclables twice as in “a” and “b” above?
  1. To establish 66.67% landfill rate in 2012
  1. 5,710,987 tons landfilled in Class I landfills
  2. 1,429,956  tons landfilled in Class III/IV landfills in 2012
  3. 10,750,184 ton waste stream
  1. The EPA found that 53.8 per cent of waste nationally was discarded in landfills in 2012   Tennessee landfilled 66.67 per cent.
  1. The EPA found there was a national strategy for recycling to concentrate on specific commodities to recycle

   1.. Paper and paper board

         2. Yard trimmings

                                  3. Metals

                     

  1. .   Recycling  these three materials alone kept over 28 percent of MSW kept out landfills.  Trends in Municipal Solid Waste 2012,” EPA     
  1. Despite claiming 33% recycling, TDEC never tells what the program or strategy was.

            9         a.  There no efforts to target specific commodities such as paper or   metals

                      b    Tennessee has built a wonderful paper trail of results with no specific programs, commodities, or targets for recycling. 

     

      10.     On Page four  (above), we asked

a.  “TDEC should define exactly how recycling created such  figures that Tennessee recycling doubled the national average in 2012 and what products were recycled”  (pg. 4, above)

                            1 “Is landfill cover that is re-used every day counted separately each         

                              day?  Total of this recycling”

  1. “Which companies recycled what raw materials?   
  2. What products were created
  3. What was recycled
  4. Be much more explicit than “commercial” and “privately” generated waste—how much ‘commercial’ ‘private’’, and ‘residential’ waste. (Plan, pg. 38) 
  5. What were the sources of recycled waste (above, pg. 4)

              7.    how was it separated from the waste stream,

              8.     what was sold, and

              9.    what records were kept.

             10. Who did the recycling

  

       11.  We strongly suspect that TDEC negotiates Annual Progress Reports with local governments

  1. In a process discussed above on Page 10 in a Section on Waste Diversion
      1. “In recent years, half the counties within the regions have not reached the annual diversion goal.  Significant bureaucratic steps are taken to rescue under achieving counties and Regions”
  1. “Additional research,
  2. analysis of ‘real time’ using current MSW   diversion and disposal data)
  3. qualitative assessments are made.
  4. One to four counties annually did not pass”  (Plan, pg. 49)

“Qualitative analysis” appears in TCA 68-211-861 and is a key step in adjusting solid waste results.

  1. TDEC   writes ”Currently, an estimated 34 percent of the MSW generated in the State is recycled across all sectors or diverted away from all landfills, including Class III/IV, as reported in the Annual Progress Reports (APRs) from local governments”. (Plan, p. 62) 
    1. This demonstrates how close TDEC is to saying we have reached the 40% goal.
    1. Well documented inaccuracies of Annual Progress Reports and TDEC data undercut this claim (Plan, pg. 35, 53)
    1. Discrepancies among local, state, and national governments about what is solid waste apparently inflates amount TDEC claims to be recycled (Plan, p. 38) (EPA, archived report, 2012)
    1. Tennessee statistics are contaminated by Industrial, commercial, and institutional  not reporting and claiming proprietary status of waste.  (Plan, p. 53)
    1. Tennessee landfills 66.67% of solid waste.  How can the state recycle 34% of waste?
    1. Tennessee might be generating significantly more solid waste than thought
      1. Waste generated and recycled are at extreme variance from

national averages, with a different definition of solid waste.

      1. Recycling and waste management have no constituency in Tennessee.  Local governments have resisted any effort to increase their involvement in waste.

                    3.  Opportunities to count waste to be landfilled can be

Manipulated

13.  As long as TCA 68-211-861 remains in force no reform will happen. 

    1. TCA 68-211-86l stipulates that the goal of the state is to reduce by twenty-five per cent the amount of solid waste disposed.
      1. Penalties for not reaching 25% diversion: the Department will do a qualitative review similar to what the Department does for Regions which do not meet the goal for waste diversion.

  

      1. Local governments are immune to pressure under TCA 68-211-861
      1. TCA 68-871(c)(d) allows non-reporting of waste to Regions      

                                              COMMENTS ON

               The  2015-2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan

                                                   Objective One

It is 25 years since the passage of the 1991 State Solid Waste Act—TCA 68-211-801.  It is quite wrong to claim 34 per cent recycling in 2012 including diversion from all landfills when the 2012 rate for landfills was 66.67% [Class I landfill 5,710,987 tons plus Class III/IV landfill of 1,429,956 tons out of a waste stream of 10,750,184 tons]

It is a bad mistake to not adapt EPA solid waste definitions so there is a standard measure.

TDEC has an effective reporting system for waste. However, the Department appears quite ready to compromise when businesses refuse to report.  Apparently, a large hospital refuses to report waste.  This is not tolerable.   The concerns over Annual Progress Reports not complete by local governments should be acute.  The massaging of local governments to increase reports under waste diversion and apparently on solid waste may prejudice and undercut state  statistics.  It is a real concern that Tennessee claims 34 per cent recycling in 2012 or 47% for waste reduction [recycling]/diversion yet nothing is said about how this was done or what methodology was followed.  The EPA cited paper and paperboard, yard trimmings, and metals which were recycled nationally in 2012 to keep more than 28% of the waste out of landfills,   How did Tennessee accomplish this?  We asked several times, above, for this information

On Page four  (above), we asked

d.  “TDEC should define exactly how recycling created such  figures that Tennessee recycling doubled the national average in 2012 and what products were recycled”  (pg. 4, above)

                            1 “Is landfill cover that is re-used every day counted separately each         

                              day?  Total of this recycling”

  1. “Which companies recycled what raw materials?   
  2. What products were created
  3. What was recycled
  4. Be much more explicit than “commercial” and “privately” generated waste—how much ‘commercial’ ‘private’’, and ‘residential’ waste. (Plan, pg. 38) 
  5. What were the sources of recycled waste (above, pg. 4)

              7.    how was it separated from the waste stream,

              8.     what was sold, and

              9.    what records were kept.

             10. Who did the recycling

We mark down the 2015-2025 Plan for not answering these questions. 

BURNT questions “Municipal Solid Waste Under local government control” as a strategy.  In fact, local governments have frequently obstructed efforts to reform or upgrade solid waste.  Landfilling is easier and cheaper on their stretched budgets.  If TDEC cannot track Annual Progress Reports and prevent business, industrial, institutional, and commercial from refusing to report, how will TDEC track reports from dozens of counties and hundreds of cities?  BURNT is concerned with the lack of introspection in TDEC’s presentation of figures such as 34% recycling in a year when we landfilled 66.67% of the solid waste.  On page 10, above, we present three models which make much more sense than “Municipal Solid Waste Under local government control” 

We appreciate the opportunity  to participate in this process and invite comments

Bruce Wood

BURNT

burnt.tn@gmail.com

BURNT

14 May 2016                                                             Please Distribute and Comment 

 

The Honorable

Stacy Cothran

Chair

Tennessee Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Control Board

 

Dear Chair Cothran

Review of Objective One—Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)   Solid Waste Plan

                                                   Edits and Corrections

Please accept the following edits and corrections to the BURNT Review of Objective One.

We did not convey the respect and affection we have for Division of Solid Waste staff, managers, and others associated with recycling and solid waste.  People are trying and so are we.

A central point was made but frequently omitted.  The point made was made:  on page 4 E, (b);  page 13, 5-b, ‘Waste Reduction and Diversion Goal;  Page 16, #8, “Recycling; Page. 16, #8- #10, “Recycling”, pg. 18-19  COMMENTS   the point omitted can be found on page 13, 5-b, Waste Reduction and Diversion, below

“there are no substantiating details of what waste was recycled, what products were made, who did the manufacturing, and how was the recycled material extracted from the waste stream”.

The point was omitted on: page 3-D, II, ‘Waste Stream’;  page 5, COMMENTS;  page 7, Inaccurate Local Numbers 1-b;  page 9, #5-b, ‘Municipal solid waste under local government control’;  pg. 17,  #12-I, ‘Recycling’; pg. 18 COMMENTS

Please omit repeat paragraph on page 7;  The number on page 5 COMMENTS and page 9 should be 66.67% not .667; All references to TCA 68-211-871 (c) should be TCA 68-211-871 (c)(d) as mechanism for solid waste generators to refuse to report on page 5, 8,