Video and Slides: Public Forum on Innovative Approaches to Manage Northampton’s Solid Waste, 11/19/08

Here is a complete Google video of the Public Forum on Innovative Approaches to Manage Northampton’s Solid Waste, a special meeting of Northampton’s Board of Public Works. This meeting, also known as the Landfill Alternatives Forum, took place on November 19, 2008 in the Community Room of John F. Kennedy Middle School. Jeff Edelstein moderated. This video is 3 hours and 34 minutes long, and was recorded by Adam Cohen.

City Engineer Jim Laurila gave a presentation on Northampton’s current solid waste management program (PDF, 54KB). He was followed by Gary Liss of Gary Liss & Associates (“Zero Waste to Cool the Planet”, PDF, 975KB) and Alan Cohen of HDR (“Innovative Approaches to Managing Northampton’s Solid Waste”, PDF, 5.9MB). The presentations were followed by comments from the public and from members of the Board of Public Works.

Jim Laurila’s presentation: 0:16:38-0:25:25
Gary Liss’s presentation:0:25:26-0:57:53
Alan Cohen and colleague’s presentation: 0:59:22-1:43:57

Here is a special highlight from the video, a performance of the “The Landfill Song” by Mary Serreze:

Mayor Clare Higgins asserts that the region has a moral obligation to deal with its trash locally. The Valley Advocate quotes her as saying, “We are providing a regional public service… Western Massachusetts should deal with Western Massachusetts trash. And even leaving the region out of the equation, Northampton has to send its trash somewhere. What are the options? Will we feel good about ourselves if we ship our trash out of state to a poorer community?”

Gary Liss challenges this notion (1:55:10-1:56:30), saying, “I don’t think you have to assume that you have to provide landfill capacity. You could provide transfer capacity. The assumption of having to provide local capacity was in the 80s, when there was a concern that there wasn’t going to be disposal capacity available anywhere, and ‘we’re running out of landfill space’. That was the driver for a lot of the programs of the 80s and 90s. That doesn’t compute anymore with the regional haul, and although it seems counter-intuitive the haul distance can be hundreds and thousands of miles for waste and recyclables…when you’re looking at some of the equations. So you don’t have to provide local disposal. You could provide a transfer station that transfers waste out at a higher cost and then your reuse and recycling programs locally would be cheaper than that option.” Alan Cohen concurred, saying, “I just want to add to that…when I talk ‘you need a disposal capacity’ it doesn’t mean it has to necessarily be local either…you look at the alternatives and what’s available.”

See also:

Department of Public Works: Proposed Phase 5 Expansion Information

Saving Paradise: Articles about the Proposed Northampton Regional Landfill Expansion

Gazette: “‘Zero waste’ goal intrigues city residents” (11/20/08)
Residents at a Board of Public Works forum Wednesday expressed excitement at the possibility that the city could move toward reducing its waste production to zero after the landfill reaches capacity.

The city is considering whether to expand the landfill when it reaches capacity or pursue other options, including a resource recovery program or a combination of approaches, including composting, anaerobic digestion, a waste-to-energy plant and gasification. The landfill is expected to be filled by 2011…

HDR and Stantec Consulting Services were hired by the city in 2007 to
complete a landfill options study, which they are expected to complete
early next year, at which time the Board of Public Works will hold a
fourth forum.

Northampton Redoubt: “Mary Serreze interviews Northampton BPW Chair Dave Reckhow on the proposed landfill expansion” (11/15/08)
Reckhow: “If there are conflicts between waste reduction and the economics of operating the landfill, we’ll want to examine that. We’ll need to define our priorities. I believe that we should be reducing our waste stream. Whether that is compatible with the landfill expansion has yet to be determined.”

Valley Advocate: “Trash is Good” (10/9/08)
the landfill business, trash is good. Currently Northampton’s Solid
Waste Enterprise Fund relies on 45,000 to 50,000 tons per year in order
to meet budget. If Pioneer Valley residents significantly reduce what
they throw away, the city may move to expand the landfill’s
“wasteshed”–that is, to entice tonnage from other areas. If another
regional facility offers haulers a cheaper alternative, this strategy
may fail. Duseau Trucking has a permit to operate a transfer station in
North Hatfield, with rail access. If, for instance, Duseau were able to
ship our region’s trash to another facility at a lower cost, it is
possible that the Northampton municipal landfill would end up

Video: Department of Public Health Presents Landfill Study