The Villages Voice - August 2020

NOTE: Adobe PDF Reader is required in order to view the complete Village Voice. If you do not have Adobe PDF reader installed, please download it at www.adobe.com. This is a free download.

Click on the image to the left to view this issue.


A Villager's View: Recycling

by Jan Palmer

A VILLAGER’S VIEW:  RECYCLING

Sometimes it is hard to wade through all the information related to decisions that are made here in The Villages.  I’ll be honest with you; it can be confusing to figure out who is responsible for what, how it will affect the whole community, as well as me as an individual.  I do, however, want to know whether we are doing the right thing practically and financially I care deeply about the environment and have been, according to my husband, a rather compulsive recycler for most of my adult life.  Before it was an active and popular cause, I had a habit of reusing anything I could salvage.  I remember when I had my baby shower; I took the wrapping paper my gifts came in and lined the baby’s dresser drawers with it.  It was practical, and sentimental at the same time.  I religiously rewash and reuse plastic storage bags, have purchased reusable K-Cups for my Keurig, rarely use individual plastic water or soda bottles, and drop my plastic bags off at Wal-Mart’s recycling bins.  It literally pains me to throw away anything that still has some useful purpose remaining. With that said, I have been perfectly happy with the way our garbage has been handled here:  twice a week pickup of disposable trash, once a week pickup of yard waste, and once a week pickup of recyclables.  But that will be changing beginning in October, so, I felt I needed some assurance that the new method of disposing of our solid waste was, indeed, a good idea.  Here is the announcement from the District Gov website: On June 18, 2020, the North Sumter County Utility Dependent District (NSCUDD) unanimously approved the Agreement with Covanta Lake II, Inc.  for waste disposal in Districts 1-11. Beginning October 1, 2020 all waste collected by CH2M/Jacobs will be taken to the Covanta Energy-From-Waste facility in Okahumpka, FL.  In 2019, in addition to reducing the waste volume by 90%, saving over 225,000 cubic yards of landfill space, Covanta produced 77,292 megawatt hours of energy, which would provide enough electricity for over 7,000 households in the community annually.  In doing some research, I found out from reputable sources that much of our recyclables do not actually get recycled.  About seven of 10 plastic water bottles get incinerated, dumped into landfills - or left as litter. ... Even the fraction of PET that is recycled ends up being "downcycled" into clothes, carpet, toys, and packaging materials. The Sierra Club website had this to offer: “After taking our poorly sorted plastic and food-stained paper for a quarter century, China called it quits. A lot of the plastic crap we sent overseas never got recycled at all, it turns out—it just got dumped, with millions of tons of it flushing down China's rivers to feed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The six-pack rings those sad sea creatures get their heads stuck in might very well have come from the bins of well-meaning US recyclers.” Shifting my personal vision for recycling will not be easy.  But what we are actually shifting to is a better plan that will use recyclables to produce clean energy from waste without using landfills.  A new study found that even using landfills is more economically feasible than recycling costs.  According to District Manager Richard Baier: “It is best to include your recyclables in the waste stream as they add to the thermal input to the plant to produce steam to turn the turbines in order to produce electricity which goes back on the grid as an alternative fuel source.  They are considered a green alternative technology, an energy-from-waste technology.  Incinerators were 1960’s technology which were likened to open burn pits, and the thermal output was not put to use producing alternative energy nor were the emissions scrubbed like current energy-from-waste plants.”  I will continue to do my part, as I hope we all will, to REDUCE our dependence on disposables, and REUSE resources as much as possible.  Did you know that “Single-use water bottles have only been around since the '90s, yet we're currently using 1,500 water bottles every second in the United States”?  Or that an estimated 20 billion disposable diapers are added to landfills throughout the country each year, creating about 3.5 million tons of waste?  And last but not least, that 75 million homes brewing single use pods like K-cups every day, multiple times a day means that tens of billions of non-reusable, non-recyclable plastic pods have ended up in landfills?  Those are sobering facts to motivate us to do  better. I think knowing these facts has helped me come to the conclusion that we will be utilizing a better system going forward:  Energy-From-Waste.  Stay tuned for more details on specifics, and/or visit The District Government website at:  www.districtgov.org By Jan Palmer