Solid waste management plan up for renewal

Recycling and reuse were the topics of a public meeting for Dutchess County’s Local Solid Waste Management Plan, “Rethinking Waste.” On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Dutchess County Division of Solid Waste Management held the meeting for community feedback regarding the 10-year plan. The meeting was held in Millbrook at Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County’s Farm and Home Center; in attendance was Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and six Dutchess County legislators, including: Benjamin Traudt, James Doxsey, Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Joel Tyner, Debra Blalock and Alan Surman. “I was surprised by how many people turned up for the meeting,” said Lindsey Carille, director of the Solid Waste Management Plan. “We had 47 people there, which I think is great for a cold winter’s night to talk about solid waste. I am thrilled that there were so many people actually interested and took the time to come out and comment.”Carille said the top comments of the night were that the county should increase its recycling goals and strive for zero waste. “Currently, the goal in the plan is 60 percent by 2021 and we feel that’s a realistic goal, given our current rate of 23 percent that’s just average,” said Carille. “But we plan on tracking our rate annually so we get a better idea of what we are doing and then assess our progress in reaching our goals. We are really hoping that we are going to do better than we think we can.”Carille said people suggested a lot of good ideas for initiatives to increase the recycling rate. Solid Waste Management is currently proposing to more than double its recycling efforts in less than 10 years. Some attendees would rather see that rate at 75 or 80 percent. Carille said they would strive for those numbers but was hesitant to record it as a goal. The director said that 60 percent is a more realistic goal.The public meeting sparked a lot of comments about closing the Resource Recovery Facility, a waste energy facility located in the town of Poughkeepsie. The facility is overseen by the Resource Recovery Agency (RRA).“For many years the county had to take a net service fee, which is the fee that we pay when the revenues are less than the expenses at the Resource Recovery Agency,” said Carille. “So a lot of people feel that it’s just going to be a drain and we should close it and put that money toward other recycling and composting efforts. A lot of people also feel that it is hazardous to people’s health.”The plan currently states that it doesn’t make financial or environmental sense to close the Resource Recovery Facility. Without the facility the waste would have to be transported to landfills; the closest one is 250 miles away, totaling a 500-mile journey. Carille said that the greenhouse gasses from the transport would exceed anything coming from the facility. She also didn’t agree with the idea of putting Dutchess County’s waste in someone else’s backyard permanently.“The facility itself is continually tested for environmental impacts and it’s definitely less than any transportation to a landfill,” Carille said. “It’s always been well below the allowable standards mandated by the Clean Air Act. The county stance is until we reach zero waste we feel that the waste energy facility is preferable to landfilling all our waste.”In order to operate the facility it takes a maximum of 164,000 tons of waste a year. Carille said they have considered allowing surrounding counties without a landfill or a waste energy facility to make use of Dutchess County’s Recovery Resource Facility. The pros and cons of that idea were debated.The public comment period for the plan is open until Thursday, March 14. Solid Waste Management plans to respond to and incorporate all comments into the plan. It’s hoping to have that work completed for the Legislature’s April 8 meeting.Once the Legislature adopts the plan it will be sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which will give the plan final approval. A 10-year plan is required by the DEC; 1990 was the last time a plan was submitted, so it’s well overdue.“We are not going to make every single person happy but we will do the best we can to plan for solid waste management for the future,” Carille said. “I think everyone is in agreement that we really need to do better in terms of recycling and reusing our waste.”

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