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Should Composting Be Mandatory In US Cities?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the when-moral-rectitude-stinks-to-high-heaven dept.

Earth 861

Hugh Pickens writes "After San Francisco enacted the nation's strictest regulations on composting in 2009, the city has increased the amount of food scraps and plant cuttings it composts to more than 600 tons per day, more than any other city in North America, and recently celebrated the collection one million tons of organic materials. Other cities have been watching as Seattle passed a similar mandate in 2010 diverting about 90,000 tons of organic waste from landfills in the first year and New York City is trying to figure out how to implement this type of program for its 8 million residents. The impact is potentially huge in terms of reducing the load on landfills as a study by San Francisco's Department of Environment shows that more than one third of all waste entering landfills could be composted instead. 'We want to see composting be a standard for everybody,' says Michael Virga, executive director of the U.S. Composting Council. 'Urban, suburban, it doesn't really matter where you are.' Although composting initially costs more than land-filling, over the long-term, the benefits will outweigh the costs. 'We can reduce a large source of landfill-generated greenhouse gases, extend the life of our landfill, and generate a valuable resource for the community in the form of premium soil and mulch,' writes Shanon Boase. 'What's more, this industry generates additional jobs.'"

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Should X be mandatory? (3, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227194)

For all non-negative values of X the answer is:


Re:Should X be mandatory? (0, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227246)


Hey, once they haul it away from my house they can pick through it and recycle whatever they want, but I'm not going to sort out my trash for this that and the other.

When I'm done with it...it is trash and I pay to have it hauled away. Once they have it...feel free to do with it as you please, but I don't have room around my place for sorting the shit out nor for creating and maintaining a compost heap for organic stuff.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (5, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227306)

well the city is providing the service of trash hauling. they can pretty much choose not to haul away organic matter. You don't have to compost, but they won't pick up that trash (or trash with organic matter unsorted inside of it). You may feel free to contract someone to haul away your unsorted trash. There. your rights are no longer being violated.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (4, Informative)

MaerD (954222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227482)

....Considering I pay the city for trash pick up (and where I am, we actually pay private firms.. the city does not provide trash pick up) they should be the ones to sort it, in my opinion. If I can pay more and not do my own sorting, I'm all for it. Everywhere I have been that makes you sort recyclables has been way too picky about what can and can't be recycled. "Plastic, but not this type, paper not including newspaper, x glass but not y glass". Pain in the ass.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (4, Insightful)

surgen (1145449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227644)

"Plastic, but not this type, paper not including newspaper, x glass but not y glass". Pain in the ass.

Really? Come on; how lazy can you get?

The city I live in started recycling pickup a month or so ago, I just put the recyclables list up on the fridge. Problem fucking solved.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (5, Insightful)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227662)

Ya pain in the ass, but basically they are saying "we will provide this service as long as you obey the rules". Put stuff where it doesn't belong and your service should be stopped. You figure out what to do with your own garbage - you created it after-all, it is your responsibility not the responsibility of the rest of us.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227308)

No problem. They will just raise the collection rates and give discounts to people who sort their own stuff.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227438)

Or more likely, just refuse to collect garbage with substantial compostable materials.

We have a composing program here and it works fine. As a Canadian, the standard selfish American "fuck that shit" response to this kind of stuff is always humorous. I mean my god.. when you eat a banana, you toss the peel into a different bin. Tiny bit of effort, huge benifits to everyone! American response: "HAWR I PAY TAXES WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO DO THAT SHIT!!"

Re:Should X be mandatory? (5, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227544)

As an American, I'm impressed with your keen understanding that he speaks for all 310,000,000 of us.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227612)

Canada then is no part of North America? I no understand what American you talking about?

"America" contrasted with "Canada" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227680)

At least I found it obvious that "America" contrasted with "Canada" refers to the United States of America.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227592)

This is the easy way to deal with it. You have a "PAYT" (Pay As You Throw) system with recyclables and compost taken for free. You incentivize the behavior you want, instead of mandating it.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (1, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227362)

I myself sort all my recycling, compost in my back yard, built a rain barrel and xerescaped my yard.

i do this because it interests me, no one should to order me to do it.

no one else should have to just because someone else thinks its a "green" thing to do.

save the commie bullshit for some other country.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227436)

Shut up, you socialist (don't worry, like commie, that word doesn't actually mean anything anymore).

Re:Should X be mandatory? (-1, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227562)

telling people what to do with their property (thus treating private property like communal property) is communism.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (0, Flamebait)

master_kaos (1027308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227380)

wow you're an asshole. You are basically saying "Fuck you" to the planet. You can't spend an extra 20 seconds throwing your banana peel into a composting bin instead of the garbage can? Oh right, you can't spare the precious seconds because you must be too busy jacking off in your parents basement. Perhaps move your stack of 10 pizza boxes, 20 cans of empty coke,and vacuum up the cockroaches, and you may have some room for the small composite bin I mean I'm no tree hugger but really? Although instead of making it mandatory, would be nice if they could somehow keep track of how much each person composts, and give a tax rebate based on that amount.

Oh good grief. (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227606)

The planet is not going to shrivel up and die if people don't compost. We're just talking about reducing the amount of land dedicated to landfills, or the cost of building more incinerators, both of which are substantially about money.

Besides, think about how many jobs would be created if municipalities hired people to sort recycleables and compostables out of household trash. Not composting is a public service. (Yes, that is a joke, although some people may not recognize it.)

Re:Should X be mandatory? (2)

jenn_13 (1123793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227628)

What if he lives in a tiny apartment, where he really doesn't have space for all these multiple bins?

Re:Should X be mandatory? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227258)

Come on, most american can't even dispose of their trash properly, asking them to compost would make their nose bleed.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (5, Interesting)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227492)

Come on, most american can't even dispose of their trash properly, asking them to compost would make their nose bleed.

That's what they said in my city. Then the city implemented an easy system, and most people, and I really mean most of them, now recycle habitually. Don't underestimate people. They might surprise you.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227304)

I disagree with this. Composting being mandatory is a good thing. Our landfills are filling up quickly and something has to be done about it - having the government regulating this is good for society overall, as most individuals won't do it out of their own will, even knowing that it's the right thing to do.

Composting serves more purposes than just decreasing the amount of stuff in landfills. It minimizes pests on landfills, as compostable material won't be available to grow the pest population. Compost can be sold to farms to help grow crops, which gives money back to the government and savings back to the farms.

Re:Should X be mandatory? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227582)

Huh? government, regulating, and good in the same sentence is not possible. Government is the worse and last someone I want controlling something like this. Government can and will always do a worse job than just about any one else.

Should X be paid for by taxes? (5, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227378)

If you want X to be provided as a tax-supported service, as rubbish removal is for residents in much of the USA, then it is completely appropriate for the government to regulate the use of X.

This can be done in a variety of ways, ranging from strict requirements to creating financial incentives (such as where you have to pay for each bag of trash, but not for recycling or composting, which is how it works in my town).

Should X be a condition for Y service? (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227510)

But what if you reframe the question as "Should X be a condition for Y service?" then it gets harder to answer, and also much more interesting to think about.

"Should composting be mandatory?" Absolutely not.

"Should composting be a required condition for using municipal garbage service?" Maybe. And that's what the real discussion should be about.

A lot of seemingly left-vs-right authoritarian-vs-libertarian flamewars could probably be avoided by looking at things in a quid-pro-quo "not just abstract social contract but a tangible you-see-it-in-action every day contract" perspective.

No (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227196)

What I do with my own garbage is my own business. If I pay someone to haul all of it away to a properly managed landfill, that is my right.

I am internalizing my costs. The green nuts can go pound sand.

Yes (4, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227302)

If it's a City service, then the costs are shared among the taxpayers, so the associated responsibilities are also shared. If you pay for your trash service independently, then you have a point.

In my town, you pay a base fee to cover the trucks coming around, and you also have to buy special town-issued trash bags (which are expensive), which covers the cost of processing the trash. Recycling is free. If you want to throw away your recyclables, then at least in my town, you do pay for it yourself. With the old tax-supported system, when you didn't recycle, I paid for it.

Re:Yes (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227490)

In our town, recycling is both free and mandatory, and trash is relatively expensive. Seems like a good way to fund trash pickup.

As a result, it annoys me to no end when people mail me packages padded withstyrofoam peanuts or other nonrecycleable materials.

Re:Yes (3, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227610)

That is a powerful incentive, but some people are retarded. Here you pay extra for excess trash; naturally a neighbor threw away 30 cans one day of usable clothes, pots, pans, and other such things. Those could have been donated to charity; instead, the wealth they represented was destroyed. She was charged for this--she should have been charged more. Destruction is not profit.

It is good for society to have a trash collection service. It is also good for society to avoid the destruction of wealth. If you destroy wealth in society, then it is well and proper that society take some of your wealth in recompense. Compostable material is valuable--and if the value of the product outweighs the economic cost of the labor, then indeed we have created new jobs (wealth) rather than a waste of labor. As with all recycling, however, there is a base cost plus a per unit cost. The per unit cost is less than the value of the product per unit; however you need a certain volume to overcome the base cost. That is why you should be charged for excess trash to encourage recycling and composting: to force you to pay the difference, either by recycling and composting (giving your trash to convert to wealth) or by money (giving your wealth directly).

Society is made more wealthy by these activities, but only if society participates. Non-participation means the economic costs are never recovered; because you are taking the means of recovery and destroying them (no trash output means no trash; high trash output means likely the average distribution of waste, some of which is reclaimable), you are both subverting a method of increasing societal wealth and costing society via inefficiency in its attempts to increase societal wealth. You are thus responsible for your actions, as they harm society. Pay up, either in aluminum or in gold.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227310)

Not a relevant comparison - if you are hiring a licensed waste disposal company, they will either require you to sort the waste and charge you a penalty for failing to do so, or the cost of their doing the sorting will be included in their upfront fee. Final disposal will be carried out as required by local ordinance. You won't notice the difference. If you take the waste to the landfill yourself, you'll be required to sort it out per local regulations and you'll just _wish_ you had sorted it out properly at home.

And no, it's not your right to dispose of your waste as you like; this is a classic tragedy of the commons, arguably precisely the sort of problem humanity developed the concept of government to cope with.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227374)

Can you read? Read the part where I said I was internalizing my costs.

EVERYTHING you wrote is completely irrelevant.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227660)

You did not really elaborate on how your internalizing your costs. Your comment comes across as a kind of magic statement. Are you paying for a private garbage service independent of a community service? Does current environmental regulations mitigate negative environment impacts from the private landfill? The issues in waste management whether public or private is always a public concern.

Recycling (5, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227218)

So recycling is mandatory, but people in the US go without healthcare? No offense intended guys and gals in the US, but the priorities of your lawmakers seem a little skewed.

Re:Recycling (1, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227278)

So recycling is mandatory...

I've never lived anywhere recycling is mandatory. I've never recycled a thing in my entire life.

And as for healthcare, no one goes without treatment, even if they don't pay for it themselves, like myself and most of us do.

Re:Recycling (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227402)

Plenty of people in the US go without treatment because they can't afford it. The only treatment everyone is entitled to is emergency care, which is generally a bit too late.

Wrong (5, Informative)

stomv (80392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227476)

"And as for healthcare, no one goes without treatment, even if they don't pay for it themselves, like myself and most of us do."

Dead wrong. Nobody goes without urgent care if they show up to an ER. Anything short of that... unless you're (a) very poor, (b) over 65, (c) a veteran, (d) under 18 and poor but not very poor, or (e) have a job which provides health insurance, or (f) married to or the (25 year old) child of someone in category e.

That sounds like everybody, but its far from it. This is just for "body" care -- dentistry and health care coverage gaps in America are massive, often even for the so-called insured. Even if you are in one of those categories, you're not guaranteed care... it all depends on what ails you, who declares it a pre-existing condition, whether or not the best treatment is the lowest cost treatment, whether or not you want a second opinion or a specialist, if you can afford the co-pays for therapeutic treatment or medication which pile up week after week, etc. etc.

Re:Recycling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227500)

People most certainly do go without treatment, I can name a number of bi-polar people who have been refused to be seen as they cannot afford to pay. Without being seen, they cannot get their medications.

If its life-threatening and they will die immediately, sure you can get treated; they will go after you to get paid however.

My (now) wife was laid off and she had to go without her bi-polar medications. She applied for a program for my (now) step-son, but we're still getting bills from the hospital despite showing them the paper work saying he was accepted into their program where they cover all his costs. They'll ever say yes he met all the criteria, all the paper work was completed, and he was approved, but they still want us to pay. With expierence like that, do you really think if we loose my health insurance he would get all the treatment he should get? No way, we'll take care of emergencies and try to get re-covered as fast as possible.

More recently this summer my employer kicked my wife, step-son, and youngest daughter off of health insurance saying my marriage certificate and 2010 joint tax return were not sufficient proof that I was still married (in the end, she added me to her checking account to satisfy them). During the 2 monthes we went without coverage, we delayed treatments. We did take my step-son to the emergency room when he fell out of a tree, but we canceled our dentist appointments.

As for recyclying, are you sure you've never recycled anything? At work, there was concern as they were dumping the trash in with the recyclables. We were told that's okay as all the trash is gone through and sorted after its collected; some company pays for that privledge as they get to keep the money from recycling. It prompted a shredder paying spree, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Re:Recycling (2)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227576)

You're kidding, right? If you're poor (or rather, poor but not poor enough to qualify for medicare/medicaid) and have a serious problem, you go without treatment right to the verge of death, at which point they'll hook you up to a machine that will keep you alive for a few months until you finally croak.

My parents have medical insurance and still ended up with $40k in medical bills last year just for things that keep them walking and breathing. And they're really not in bad shape for people of their age (early 60s), and none of their problems are caused by stupid lifestyle choices (diet, smoking, etc).

Re:Recycling (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227622)

My dad just died from a stroke caused by undiagnosed diabetes. COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE. The reason the diabetes went undiagnosed for so long? No health insurance, and he couldn't afford out of pocket doctors visits. If he couldn't afford the doctors visits, he certainly wouldn't have been able to afford all of the diagnostic blood testing materials, or the insulin to keep his blood sugar in check. Emergency care is great and all, but what we really need is preventative care, and *that* is not covered.

Re:Recycling (0, Troll)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227286)

So recycling is mandatory, but people in the US go without healthcare?

No, this isn't about recycling. Which is mandatory in some places, but not in others.

This is about composting...which is mandatory in some places, but not in others.

That said, no, in general, people in the USA don't go without healthcare. The sometimes go without health insurance, but that doesn't mean that they don't get treated.

Re:Recycling (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227400)

That is bullshit. People go without treatment all the time. The only guaranteed medical service is life saving emergency medical service. And that will still bankrupt everyone with middle class income or less. When you have to choose between eating for a month and going to a doctor for a checkup, most people decide to eat and let their medical conditions go undiagnosed and untreated until they die.

Re:Recycling (0)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227618)

I've been without health insurance several times in my life. Oddly, when I went to a doctor and told them I had no health insurance, I generally got a discount on service.

A quite substantial discount, in the case of the CT-Scan I had to have one time I was without health insurance.

It should also be noted that the choice between eating for a month and going to a doctor is generally a false dichotomy - it doesn't cost that much to see a doctor (okay, it doesn't cost that much to see MY doctor - YMMV).

And people who are poor enough that they have to make that sort of choice are generally eligible for Medicaid, which makes the question of cost moot.

Re:Recycling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227328)

Unless Im mistaken, if nothing changes having healthcare is/will be mandatory as well. However I see no reason why those of us who are moderately healthy should be forced to carry health insurance if we don't want to. If every driver in the US is supposed to have instance why do all insurance companies make paying customers pay for "uninsured motorist" coverage?

Re:Recycling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227394)

So recycling is mandatory, but people in the US go without healthcare? No offense intended guys and gals in the US, but the priorities of your lawmakers seem a little skewed.

Actually, the People's Republic of San Francisco made health care mandatory long ago, and it was upheld on appeal:

http://www.allenmatkins.com/templates/alert_photosLeft_2010-07-08.asp?is_id=106 [allenmatkins.com]

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=San+Francisco++mandatory+health+care&btnG=Google+Search [google.com]

Re:Recycling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227420)

First, on the mandatory part you have to consider that it's California we're talking about. There's very little about California that is normal.

Second, the only places where you'd have to go without healthcare is where there are so many illegals abusing the "free" healthcare that

the hospitals have had to shut down. Which really just means you have to travel to the next closest hospital.

Re:Recycling (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227440)

There is an enormous difference, and you seemed to have utterly missed the point of contention in your attempt to simplify this down to "clearly X is more important to Y". Notably, there are questions as to the government's role, the Federal government's specific role as it relates to residents of a particular states, the authority of a local government, and whether it is an acceptable use of power to mandate a private good be purchased simply for being alive.

You will note that this doesnt seem to be suggesting a federal mandate, which again would fall afoul of a number of really important principles.

Listen, what happens to our planet in 500 years is really really important. What happens to our government in the next 20 is also really important, and if you start violating important principles of one (such as limitations of power and separation of local and federal power) for the other, Im not sure that you can call it a net win. A pristine planet in an orwellian society doesnt really appeal to me, and its why these battles are so important to fight.

Re:Recycling (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227620)

This is a form of healthcare. You pick up garbage in order to limit the spread of disease, which is far more effective as well as far cheaper than getting medical treatment after the fact.

As for the "recycling" bit: cities usually consider composting and recycling to divert waste from dumps. They do this for economic reasons rather than political reasons because (for some strange reason) very few people want to live near a landfill. Maybe it's because landfills create poor environmental conditions that impact people's health.

So I would say that their priorities are in the right place.

Question (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227226)

Silly question... if it is headed to a landfill, isn't it being 'composted' anyway? We are burying it, after all.

Re:Question (2)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227272)

I think the idea is that composted in this manner it doesn't STAY in the landfill taking up volume.

Re:Question (5, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227428)

No, a landfill is an anaerobic environment. Organic material in a landfill barely decays at all once it has been covered and sealed.

Re:Question (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227462)

Silly question... if it is headed to a landfill, isn't it being 'composted' anyway? We are burying it, after all.

You're confusing "out of sight, out of mind" with composting or even proper disposal. Throwing the refuse on the ground and covering it with clay or other earth isn't thought out other than just getting rid of it.

Took a few decades for dumb humans to realize you couldn't just throw those electronics under the dirt and not expect Lead, Mercury, Chromium, PCB/PBB, etc, to show up one day in the well water. Driving through the Desert West, slowing down and taking a short walk off road frequently reveals the extent of communities to just assume putting something over there in the weeds was a good enough way to dispose of it - quite a lot of rubbish in the desert, over 50 years old and still sitting there, it didn't go away - consider Douglas Adams' concept of SEP, these dumping grounds, to the present, seem to radiate a strong SEP Field - though eventually they come back to us in some way.

Planning for disposal, recycling and composting should be part of any municipal plan, where larger cities can take advantage of an economy of scale to reduce initial cost. There's only so much land available for landfill and then what? The San Francisco Bay area has huge mounds of landfill around the South Bay, likely something in each of these will seep into the Bay, water table and food chain in some way. Shouldn't be doing these kinds of dumps anymore, but they still do.

Re:Question (2)

Angostura (703910) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227518)

Yeh, but you are taking up space in scarce landfill with material that could be used, rather than ... taking up space in Landfill. Where I am in London, we are supplied with 3 bins, compostables (which takes pretty much any organic matter apart from raw meat and bones), recyclable - almost all plastics, all metal and glass and regular rubbish. The compost created is sold to gardeners, used for public parks and gardens etc. and does a lot more good than it would causing a stink in landfill.

We already do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227264)

Suck on that, mandate.

A good idea, but ... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227296)

Aside the fact much of this Green Waste will decompose over time, releasing hydrocarbons in the atmosphere, which could be harvested in a properly designed and maintained natural gas generating landfill, much of farm land is being depleted of minerals in topsoil, where this compost should be placed back.

Mandatory? No, people should be doing this because it makes good business sense.

Re:A good idea, but ... (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227386)

Mandatory? No, people should be doing this because it makes good business sense.

This may be one of those cases where it makes good business sense medium-to-long term, but is a loss in short term (because you have to break up the existing arrangements first). And long-term efficiency is not in favor these days.

Re:A good idea, but ... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227430)

Decomposing plants doesn't release any carbon dioxide overall - what it puts out is matched molecule-for-molecule by what it took in growing the plants.

Re:A good idea, but ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227626)

Decomposing plants doesn't release any carbon dioxide overall - what it puts out is matched molecule-for-molecule by what it took in growing the plants.

Matched atom for atom, but the molecules are of a different construction and number, sir.

Please recall the petroleum is the result of plant decay, albeit from fatty, fast growing plants of a bygone era. A well constructed green landfill will produce natural gas for around 100 years, usually reaching peak production in 50. We have landfills around south San Francisco Bay which have some sort of combustion device, where captured gases are channeled into them and simply burned, generating no power in the process, but by the visible heat signature they certainly could be generating some power, even it just for the nearby street lights.

The old broken window fallacy... (0)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227314)

"What's more, this industry generates additional jobs.""

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_window_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

Re:The old broken window fallacy... (4, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227480)

Its not a broken window fallacy if its actual useful work that can be done and adds value to society.

Re:The old broken window fallacy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227484)

"What's more, this industry generates additional jobs.""

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_window_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

It's only equivalent to the broken window fallacy if you assign a value of 0 to the results of the activity. Which you might, but there are benefits listed besides the jobs piece.

Re:The old broken window fallacy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227570)

Yes, everyone here knows what the broken window fallacy is.

No, linking to a wikipedia article does not constitute an argument that it applies in this situation.

decision for each city (4, Insightful)

mikem170 (698970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227322)

I think that's a great idea, if the decision is made on a city-by-city basis. I'm in favor of each municipality making this decision for themselves.

I'm opposed to a federal mandate to do this. It should be a local decision. This avoids a lot of potential future problems.

If it's a good thing, it will be copied. Just like the article says is already happening.

Recycle (2)

cob666 (656740) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227330)

The recycle rules in Nova Scotia are pretty strict, trash must be separated and almost all organic waste must be composted (the exception is animal fats because they attract animals). I travel up there frequently enough that it was initially a major pain in the ass but I've found myself more aware of the trash I generate. I try to buy things that have less packaging and also try to buy commonly used household items more in bulk.

Why is municipal composting better than landfills? (2)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227344)

Not trying to troll, I'm legitimately unfamiliar. Doesn't organic waste biodegrade in a landfill anyway? The article mentions reducing the carbon released by landfills- aren't we just shifting that carbon to a different facility?

The high-quality soil produced does seem like a sweet plus, but the "jobs created" claim seems silly (wouldn't it destroy an equal number of landfill jobs?)

Re:Why is municipal composting better than landfil (4, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227408)

The amount of time it takes is dramatically different. Biodegradeable substances don't degrade quickly at all in landfills. Managed composting, on the other hand, can turn vegetable matter into soil in a couple months. (Casual home composting is rather slower, but still lightning-fast compared to landfills.)

Re:Why is municipal composting better than landfil (1)

theunixbomber (2023818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227624)

I started composting a few years ago at home, and was blown away at how fast it actually happens. If your starting a "fresh batch", it can take about a month before it starts to really look look like soil, but after that, anything you add is unidentifiable within a few days to 2 weeks depending on what it is.

I'm sure times vary, but still, I was expecting it to take months for an old apple to break down. By the end of the year, my 3 member family has a 55 gallon trash can filled with usable compost.

Re:Why is municipal composting better than landfil (1)

einstein4pres (226130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227552)

Organics in landfills produce methane, which is more potent than carbon dioxide. Also, there's no chance to reclaim the nutrients, as pretty much everything in a landfill ends up toxic.

As for the jobs claim, it might be silly, or not. The soil is sold, so there might be some relative value to those jobs compared to landfill jobs. And there are other positive externalities, such as reduced need for landfill space (which is a different ongoing cost than labor).

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm [epa.gov]

Composting Makes Garbage Cleanner (5, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227346)

I have been backyard composting for a while now. I put vegetable scraps in a small stainless steel bucket under my sink. When the bucket is full, I take it out (every four days or so) and dump it in the compost bin. My area also has curb side food scraps collection, which would be easy enough to use, but I prefer to compost myself, so that I can feed my garden each spring. Besides getting a nice garden, one of the main benefits has been that my garbage is much cleaner. In fact, besides a few bones, most of my garbage consists of unrecycleable plastic bags and containers. When I take my garbage out, it is a plastic bag full of plastic bags.

The main work consists of turning the compost outside every once in a while (which wouldn't be necessary for curb side collection), and in cleaning the compost bucket under the sink, which is easy since it is stainless steel. The garbage bin is less stinky, which is nice, and I don't get the drippy bags of garbage that I used to get when I put food scraps in the regular garbage. In other words, I have found composting to be relatively easy, and I suspect most people would have a similar experience once they got started.

Garbage heap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227348)

Absolutely, make it mandatory. Then when millions of compost heaps go neglected (because, by the way, composting correctly is a process and a lot of work), we'll be buried under rat-infested garbage heaps, spreading disease, stink and illness throughout the nation.

But, really, go ahead and make it mandatory. It'll give the toxic cleanup industry just the shot in the arm it needs.

Re:Garbage heap (4, Insightful)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227412)

Absolutely, make it mandatory. Then when millions of compost heaps go neglected (because, by the way, composting correctly is a process and a lot of work), we'll be buried under rat-infested garbage heaps, spreading disease, stink and illness throughout the nation.

But, really, go ahead and make it mandatory. It'll give the toxic cleanup industry just the shot in the arm it needs.

Neglected compost becomes soil eventually. If proper compost bins are used, rats are not an issue. This article is referring to curb side food scraps collection, where the city collects the scraps and brings them to a large facility. I can promise you that such facilities will turn those scraps into compost quite quickly. They won't be "toxic".

Re:Garbage heap (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227444)

Composting properly is painfully simple. Composting quickly is trickier, though it's pretty easy if a city service does it.

Explain the difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227358)

Understanding that one way allows the reuse of the organic materials, doesn't the organic material break down in much the same way whether it is in a landfill or a compost pile? Doesn't this generate the same amount of greenhouse gases? In addition, isn't driving two different trucks to make two different pick-ups and then dumping in two different locations actually less energy efficient and more polluting?

No (2)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227360)

But if it makes financial sense to do it, they should offer service to pick it up for a cheaper rate than the service to take it to a landfill.

Just what we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227364)

Why not pass a law making it illegal to be lazy in this country. That would cover a whole range of sins and skip the incrementalism.

Cannot believe the negative comments (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227366)

For the early replies I am reading, saying it's my trash, I'll do what I want - are you serious?

Everyone has a responsibility toward the social compact.

What really burns me is why environmentalism, basic stewardship and common sense have been co-opted by the left, when if anything, *conserv*atives should be the ones owning this issue. Stewardship over the land - it's in the friggin' Bible.

At the end of the day, isn't preserving the planetary resources in everyone's best interest?

This is the main reason why I am a GDI.

Question about the greenhouse gases (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227372)

How will dumping the organic stuff into a compost pile generate less greenhouse gases than if dumped into a landfill? I would assume that the organics would still decompose in the same way. Is the decomposition different in composting vs. landfills?

Re:Question about the greenhouse gases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227560)

Yes, they can be different. If you're regularly turning your at home compost, then you are aerating the mix and encouraging the production of carbon dioxide. If you are dumping many layers into a landfill then you are encouraging anaerobic decomposition and the production of methane, which is much more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Re:Question about the greenhouse gases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227684)

Organic matter in a landfill composts anaerobically, which generates methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

begging the question (1)

davek (18465) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227376)

The very summary of this article is just assuming that the US has already thrown out the constitution and completed the transition to a communist dictatorship.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Tenth amendment to the US constitution.

The question is not "Should Composting Be Mandatory In US Cities?", it's "Can Composting Be Mandatory In US Cities?" The answer, according to our founding documents, is a resounding NO.

Re:begging the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227546)

So many things are wrong here it's hard to know where to start... First, this is a local/state policy not a federal policy. So it would vary state to state, locality to locality based on what their rules/constiution/etc say and how it has been interpreted in their courts.

Next, the power of the US Congress to create laws as it sees fit is SETTLED LAW. Numerous supreme court decisions have affirmed the interpretation of the Constitution that the US Congress can pretty much do what it pleases as long as it doesn't conflict with the other constitutional points/court interpretations/etc.

Please remove yourself from the right wing echo chamber long enough to find out how the real world works.

Unreasonable regulation (1)

DigitalGoetz (2510424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227384)

I can see how certain cities can see a value in regulating their citizens to recycle/compost certain items. I just can't see how this will work in certain area's especially like NYC where people have such small living areas already. Will they be required to keep a compost heap within their apartments, or just haul it to the roof for a communal heap?

I just dont think it would be feasible for people who don't own any outdoor property to fulfill this type of directive. When I lived in Queens, I did own outdoor property, but it consisted of approximately 4 square feet in front of my apartment that already was taken up by a bush. Perhaps composting is much more complicated than I've been led to believe, but then this just becomes a money saving venture for the city (which won't lead to a tax break) and more work for it's citizens.

Re:Unreasonable regulation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227668)

It sounds like you're assuming the regulation would make people do the composting themselves. As I understand it, a city the size of NYC would merely require people to sort their trash so the organics can be hauled off to a compost heap outside of the city.

It's become ridiculous. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227406)

I grew up composting. My father is a horticulturist, and he was eager to create free fertilizer from things we would normally discard. But he never got around to using the compost, so for ten years we had a big smelly pile of mucky garbage in our backyard for neighbor kids to accidentally slip and fall down in. The volume doesn't go down as much as you'd think. Still, it was cool to watch steam rise off the compost pile as the bacteria did their work. Here in parts of urban Portland Oregon, you have to compost even if you can't grow anything on your property, and it's become ridiculous.

Re:It's become ridiculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227650)

I've been running a small compost bin for several months by the driveway, and it doesn't smell bad at all. Was he putting meat scraps and fat in it? That's a big no-no. I understand rotting flesh will make your compost stink to high heaven. Vegetable matter only is the rule here, and it has a pleasant sweet or earthy smell to me when I stir it up.

The un-used compost in Portland sounds like an opportunity. I can't believe nobody with a pickup and a small patch of land has put an ad in Craigslist and arranged to collect it from people who don't want it. If the city has granted a monopoly that bars such activity, the problem is with the monopoly hauler and/or the grant, not the idea of composting.

Why do people bag yard waste? (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227460)

I've never really understood the practice of bagging up your lawn clippings, or raking up your leaves and throwing them in bags as if it was all waste products to be disposed of. Mulching everything with a mulching lawnmower is less effort, better for your yard, and better for the city since it saves money in collection costs.

Leaves in particular once ground up are wonderful soil amendments for a garden. They're not particularly high in nutrients, but when the leaves break down, they turn into hummus, which both retains moisture, and improves drainage.

careful what you wish for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227466)


Greenwashing doesnt make it any safer....or better. And yes, it is fitting that /. put this under politics.
It is the politicization of bad science.


The more you know about USA the better Denmark looks.

One man's garbage... (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227522)

While it doesn't actually bother me, being the cynic that I am, I do feel that most of these indicatives are designed with the simple goal of generating revenue for the few. If money can be made from composting and recycling, then the suppliers of the raw materials should be paid. I’m sure some this happens in some countries or cities, but it doesn’t where I come from.

City dwellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227556)

I live in a small apartment. So far I did not find any solutions for composting in an apartment setting.

Large scale can pollute too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227566)

We have a large scale composting facility here in VT. The scraps from area restaurants are composted and "dirt" is created, we also compost waste from the sewage systems (separately) which becomes fertilizer. The second is huge because it diverts waste from the lake.

About two years ago the large scale compost facility got so large that it became an environmental polluter - caught by the environmental police, fined, and ultimately closed. The facility moved to a better location complete with more modern tools - including a lined landfill in order to protect drinking water. Previously the wonderful rich juices were making their way into a major river and helping dangerous things grow in the lake - not to mention that large amounts of organic juice aren't good for you.

The free compost is nice - each year you can fill your trunk with dirt and make your garden nice. It is used in landscaping - for just the price of truck fuel. There is no doubt that it is better to reuse it immediately rather than have it sit "forever" in a landfill.

Recycling is a requirement of the future. But as it grows, just like those recycled PCs going to China, it isn't the perfect be-all solution. It still requires the same monitoring.

Composting? Try Anaerobic digestion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227572)

And landfills? Try Incineration which can also produce electricity and the waste heat can be used for district heating. From an european viewpoint this "waste mangement" looks like 19th century.

no (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227574)


And it shouldn't be mandatory anywhere, not just in US cities.

The real problem is that the garbage collection services are monopolized by government, the franchise licenses or however it's done, depending on locality, basically there is no competition in garbage collection.

It's like any large utility - it's taken over by special interests that use government power to prevent any competition.

What really should be happening is that this should be open to real competition, government shouldn't be providing any of these utility services and real competition would price garbage collection according to their processing capabilities.

So you may have a MONETARY INCENTIVE to separate your garbage at home, if some of the provided services were cheaper based on the clients separating the garbage before it's picked up.

That's the real way to do it. Maybe then there would be an incentive to innovate in this space and some of the garbage processors would find ways to separate the garbage in their collection facilities, but this would cost the end clients more.

It's all about choices and convenience. Maybe the ONLY thing that LOCAL government should be involved in is bylaws that say you can't DUMP garbage on the streets or whatever, but I am against this as well, it should be a strict property rights issue. But if a locality comes together to set up some bylaws, it's their right, though you KNOW it will be abused and special interests will get some special privileges based even on this level of government involvement.

But hey, that's again a rational approach to the problem, and it doesn't work well with people here, who don't like the rational approaches. [slashdot.org]

Yes. (5, Interesting)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227594)

Your rights end when you start crapping in my yard.

So, yes.

Industry dumping deadly chemicals, your Hummer, the crap that leads to the algee blooms in the ocean, all of it has a direct impact on me. And thus, yes, I and the rest of the world get to tell you to stop shitting in the nest.

No scarcity of land for landfills. (1, Interesting)

johnnygeneric (889313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227632)

1) Using the reason of "cutting down on landfilling" for composting is a straw dog. There is no scarcity of land for landfills. That is a myth. 2) Eventually, the city where separating out the table scraps for composting becomes mandatory, will hire "trash police" whose sole duty is to check and fine people who do not comply with the rules. 3) Rules for what can be composted can be quite complicated and it is easy to violate the rules unknowingly. I lived in Germany there the rules (read:laws) varied from city to city. We had a battle with the landlord since he was fined for a violation he did not commit (one of the tennants violated the laws). She accused us, the "Americans", when it was someone else. 4) Special compostible plastic bags are usually required for recycling compostible material. These bags have limited strength and can burst if overloaded. They have a limited shelf life and if exposed to the sun can fall apart in your hands. And they are not cheap. 5) If it is economical and profitable, then let the private sector handle it. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and money.

Makes too much sense (1)

twiddler69 (2504140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227674)

The Industry is not about saving the planet or doing the right thing, it this all makes too much sense for politicians to understand.
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