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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 11, 2012 7:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was It's gonna be just like old times. The next post in this blog is Portland reaches for the credit card yet again. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Riding shotgun with Stenchy

Today's Willy Week takes a look at Portland's food compost program, from your front door to the piles in North Plains. Their basic thrust is that everything's fine. It's an interesting piece, but it doesn't really ask the questions that we asked here a while back:

1. Exactly where does the money we pay to our garbage hauler go? To which government does he or she pay fees? To which private companies? How are those rates set?

2. What do transfer station operators and landfill operators pay or receive for their part of the process?

3. Is it true that most or all the compost material currently being generated in Portland is being trucked all the way to Seattle and Yakima for processing?

4. How many more (or fewer) truck miles are being logged as a result of Portland's new food waste program?

5. Which private companies own the compost they produce from Portland yard debris and food slop? Where do they sell it? How much of a profit are they making on it?

6. Is organized crime a major influence over garbage collection and disposal in Portland, the way it has always been up and down the East Coast?

Maybe some other reporter will dig a little deeper, at least into the money story.

Comments (17)

Given that there seem to be certain subjects the local media isn't willing to look too closely at, you may have answered your own question in point number 6, Jack.

The article does mention how some of the our money is spent:

Compost: 29%
Recycling: 16%
Solid waste: 19%
Overhead: 22%

So composting costs us more than the garbage, and they sell the end result... Wow, just, wow!

As to compost costing about 50% more than garbage...

The 2012 projection shows that there is expected to be about 70% more compost (89000 tons) than garbage (52000 tons). So composting is cheaper than landfilling garbage...

http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/?a=397539&c=49522

pdxmark,

Maybe you should look at the actual numbers and not the phony projections.

Garbage went from 23,052 to 12,902: Down 10,150 lbs.

Wait, they don't report the number of pounds of compost materials collected... Hmmm... I wonder why... The only number they show is 2010, why not 2011? Why nothing for the first quarter of 2012? Could it be because the numbers wouldn't look good?

There was about a 10% increase in recyclables.

I know I have had a 0% decrease in garbage and a 0% increase in compost materials. (I still compost what I want on-site.) Actually that probably isn't true, I send a whole lot more food waste down the sewer than I used to... But maybe they filter that out and send it off to be composted as well.

http://www.recologyoregonmaterialrecovery.com/danDavisRecyclingCenter.htm

We also sell compost, organic humus, dark hemlock and medium bark dust.
Accepted Items
Items We Accept
Yard debris, sod, bushes and shrubs(branches and wood must be separated)
Wood, branches, and stumps (under 2')
Metal
PROHIBITED MATERIALS: Wet Garbage, Food Waste, Chemicals, Commercial Refrigerants, Railroad Ties, Paint, Auto Parts/Motors, Tires Over 22.5 Inches, Hazardous Waste Including Asbestos Containing Materials

Again, I bring up this issue: Recology prohibits food waste in compost, why do we allow this NOW? What will happen to our soil? This could be like an egg scrambled that can never be put back together. I consider this very serious when in my opinion decisions are based on politics/money and not on science. We will be eating food grown on this soil, it had better be done based on science. Another downward spiral of no return?

Why does the driver in the article complain that someone put a dead duck in their compost bin? Are you telling me I could put duck bits in the bin but not a whole duck? What if I cooked the dead duck first? Can I not put in the carcass from a rotisserie chicken?

Seems hypocritical to me...

Financial figures please - reporters?
How much is our city making on this?
Are they in such deep doo-doo that they have to do whatever to stop the bankruptcy, never mind public health issues?

Why does the driver in the article complain that someone put a dead duck in their compost bin?

I agree -- that's crazy.

The organized crime aspect of garbage pick up is a running joke here in NJ. It's flat out recognized. Our garbage pickup is included in our (absurdly high) property taxes. Get this. Monday is recycling and regular garbage pick up. Thursday is garbage pick up again. Every other wednesday is yard debirs - they'll pick up full on trees. Just leave it lying on the road and it gets picked up. Once a month is appliances, furniture, large items. No fees to go to the dump and use that service either. Trust me, I'd rather be paying for the garbage pick up that I got in Portland over what we pay for here. Almost forgot, every truck has three guys on it to pick up the garbage.

Question 4:

10,000 fewer tons of garbage to Arlington in Q1. About 50 tons/truck to Arlington (see link). 200 fewer trucks to Arlington (136 miles).

Of the 10,000 tons, about 1400 are increased recycling. That makes 8600 more tons of composting -- about 172 truck loads. But 4% go to Yakima (185 miles, or elsewhere), which is 7 truck loads.

So 165 truck loads go to North Plains (19 miles) or north of Corvallis (80 miles).

If for sake of simplicity we say the 2 composting sites get 50-50, the average composting haul distance is 50 miles.

So 165 truck loads save 170 miles round trip going to compost sites rather than Arlington. 7 truck loads make an extra 100 mile round trip to get to/from Yakima, versus Arlington. That 700 extra miles to Yakima is worth about 4 of the regular compost trucks.

So, 161 truck loads save 170 miles of travel (1/2 full, 1/2 empty).

http://www.masterrecycler.org/PDF/MR_April_08_newsletter.pdf

Q4 PS. That's per quarter.

Question 3 -- No, about 4%

That was the official answer. In May.

So 165 truck loads save 170 miles round trip going to compost sites rather than Arlington. 7 truck loads make an extra 100 mile round trip to get to/from Yakima, versus Arlington. That 700 extra miles to Yakima is worth about 4 of the regular compost trucks.

Anyone can extrapolate made-up numbers. What we want instead is decent reporting of what is actually happening.

Garbage is landfill and should be called such.

Saw this post from a Portland friend this morning:
This damn two-week garbage pick-up in insane. So, I get charged the same as I did for weekly pick-up but now when I smash stuff to fit into my one small can they won't pick it up due to weight. Now I get super heated and decomposing trash for 4 weeks charged extra in two weeks because I will have two cans. We recycle like crazy, have no kids, and grow a lot of our food. Are families just sucking it up and paying more for more cans? I don't understand how this benefits anyone but the Garbage companies and City.

"Anyone can extrapolate made-up numbers. What we want instead is decent reporting of what is actually happening."

The extrapolation was from actual tons of garbage hauled in Q1 2011 and 2012. "Made up numbers" seem to be ones that point to conclusions folks here don't want to hear...


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