Bead Counters Are Important, But Is This Waste Management?

Nor' east Thinkin'

So who had time to count all this waste management trash, and was it at taxpayer expense?

Published on: March 22, 2012

 I guess there are a lot of folks with more time than they know what to do with. But I certainly haven’t met any who are active farmers.

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection proudly announced that the Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup set a 2011 record for volunteers removing trash and debris from Lake Erie shorelines and tributaries. So you don’t get the wrong impression, that’s a good thing! I’m all for waste management!

Saturday, Sept. 17 must have been one fine day. The clean-up event pulled in 1,518 volunteer picker-uppers. They removed 7,577 pounds of trash and separated out 1,715 pounds of recyclable material.

Those numbers would be relatively easy to get since all that trash crossed scales provided by the Erie County Recycling Program. And the waste management recyclers probably wouldn’t be picky about whether all that stuff – plastics, glass and aluminum – was air-dried to, say, 15% dry matter content.

The other nearly three tons of junk – probably tires, paper products, plus picnic and boating paraphernalia, maybe a boat motor or two – went to a Waste Management landfill free of charge.

But who counted this stuff?

Every piece of trash collected was documented. The “top five types of trash” found during the 2011 cleanup included:

  • 19,716 cigarette butts and cigar tips
  • 6,277 beverage containers
  • 5,495 food wrappers and containers
  • 4,547 beverage caps, lids and straws
  • 2,578 plastic bags

What a waste! You can only hope that volunteers – not paid civil servants – waded through it all, with plastic gloves and maybe abacus boards.

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