Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recycling Opponents Try Again in the House

House Bill 29, which would needlessly impede implementation of universal curbside recycling in Delaware, comes up before the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday afternoon. The bill would require waste collectors to present their customers with separate cost breakdowns for regular waste and recycling pickups.

This is a matter that was decided last year by SB 234, which institutes statewide curbside recycling in Delaware, and requires that any waste hauler provide recycling as an integral part of waste collection.
Opponents of statewide recycling tried and failed to pass an identical amendment to SB 234 that would have mandated a separate cost breakdown. House Amendment 1 to SB 234 was defeated with 15 yes votes and 23 no votes. An unsuccessful lawsuit filed in Chancery Court to block the implementation of SB 234 also raised the issue.

HB 29 would impose unnecessary and unwarranted administrative burdens on firms and local governments that collect waste and recyclable material from Delaware’s homes and businesses. Waste collectors would have to have their accountants perform complex cost analysis for no good purpose. For instance, the bill doesn't specify whether costs be allocated by the customer, by the trip or by the ton. I've performed cost accounting in a variety of circumstances, and know from experience that how the analysis is structured profoundly affects the result. No public purpose would be served by this exercise, except to give recycling opponents another chance to claim that recycling is too expensive.

The opponents of recycling continue to ignore the economic advantages of single stream recycling. Waste collectors will use the same trucks and crews for regular waste and recyclable materials. The only difference is that the trucks will deliver one load to a recycling facility on one day and the other to a landfill on another. These opponents also forget that SB 234 will create long term environmental benefits and capital savings for Delaware through the extension of the useful life of our existing landfills.

As I see it, HB 29 is a nuisance bill that would serve no useful purpose other than to create a impediment for those working faithfully to implement the law. Given that the matter has been decided by the General Assembly and Chancery Court, this bill does not deserve more than a cursory consideration from the committee.


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