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City Council adopts Zero Waste Plan

Thursday, January 22, 2009 by Austin Monitor

The Austin City Council approved the Zero Waste Plan at last week’s meeting, making some last minute changes to address concerns over the implementation of the policies that will be necessary to achieve the plan’s goal of reducing the amount of trash sent to the city’s landfill by 90 percent.


Council Member Lee Leffingwell proposed the changes as part of his motion to approve the plan. Those changes were in line with recommendations from the city’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission as well as changes sought by private waste companies.


Representatives of those businesses were concerned that the staff would make changes to the city’s regulations under the Zero Waste Plan that would affect their operations (see In Fact Daily, Jan. 15, 2009).


Leffingwell’s amendment added language to the plan explicitly stating that “Council approval is required for any changes to existing policies in effect as of January 14th, 2009, with regard to control over pricing, collection, and disposition of commercial solid waste and commercial recyclable materials or to impose surcharges to or limit the rights of area landfill operators to receive waste.”


Another amendment clarifies that the city will continue to work with waste disposal facilities, recycling, and compost operations as key stakeholders on changes to the City’s rules and policies. The other two amendments call for the City Manager to integrate the Zero Waste Plan into a master plan for the Solid Waste Services Department and request landfill operators to study the use of methane gas generated at landfills as an energy source.


“This has been a long time coming,” Leffingwell said. “We have worked on it and hired consultants and it’s been a long, laborious process…but I think we’re now in the threshold of integrating a long-term zero waste strategic plan into our master plan.”


Mayor Will Wynn is holding a press conference today to discuss the challenge to citizens to reduce our trash by 90 percent by the year 2040.  In order to carry out this goal, the Mayor is asking for community input on how to make Zero Waste a reality for Austin. The news conference is scheduled for 11am at City Hall.

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