Neil Seldman Lecture!

Here are my notes from Neil Seldman‘s Talk about Recycling in the US to our class on Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Neil Seldman Talk

Sustainability, decentralization, democracy, development, solid waste
New Rules – laws needed for sustainable economy

Economic development in rural areas.
Garbage, solid waste

Municipal Solid Waste – throw out 250 million tons a year
Construction and demolition waste – 250 tons a year
500 million tons a year of valuable raw materials

US wastes 12 billions tons of materials a year – waste from extracting raw materials from objects we consume
Garbage – controlled at citizen level
Last 7 mayors of NYC have tried to build incinerators and failed


Environmental benefits – less waste

Economic Perspective – cheaper to use recycled materials

Landfill vs Incinerators

US is limitless when it comes to landfills
500 million to build an incinerator = 1 billion over 20 years
Recycling is much cheaper – costs the same to pick them up as garbage

NYC – understand how garbage is collected to match the cityscape with technology
NYC = too hard to have bins for recycled materials because of density

1 job from 10 million pounds of garbage
many jobs for recycling centerss
grey matter – used will create jobs
deconstruction = ex offender credit
Predicts that recycling will win out over incineration and landfills

Plastic made from plant matter is the new wave of recycling

Recycling is Propaganda
2 companies control 16% of the total garbage hauling market in the US
They make more money from landfills than recycling

Wall Street hates Recycling – because it costs so much to build a landfill
Right Wing Intellectuals
Recycling is a communist plot – Governments think this
Since Obama was elected, the right wing anti recycling groups have been joined by the liberals

Entitlements – for people – social security, etc…
for corporations
economics and local control

Focus on 3 Technologies:

Anarobic Digestion – food waste keep it segregated, don’t mix it, shred it and let it rot to get Methane gas which can be used

Building Deconstruction – made to think about how they can be taken apart – Mercedes Benz builds it cars to be reused – the same applies to buildings

Repair and Reuse – take 5% of the waste stream and its worth more than it would be as trash
Best Example: St. Vincent DePaul in Eugene, Oregon

Design for Reuse
Activists who organize for recycling

Intellectual History Behind recycling – comes from the era in the US where industrialization was making an impact

Thorsten Veblen – Conspicuous Consumption

Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture

Paul Goodman

Electronic Waste – goes to China
Study garbage you will never be unemployed

Documentary: “Exporting Harm”

Book: Plastic Ocean

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