Hawaiian garbage

Rita Hibbard's picture

Good news on the garbage front - methane from Seattle's garbage to heat homes

I wrote recently about the folly of shipping hundreds of thousands of tons of Hawaiian garbage to landfills in central Washington. I wrote that the low cost - $99 per 100,000 tons, enables what is so clearly the unsustainable lifestyle that so many of us on this planet live. rita_hibbardwebThere are other issues – the garbage is shrink-wrapped, as if this will somehow prevent transmission of non-native species. As readers pointed out, excess packaging creates excess trash. And in that piece, I mentioned that Seattleites, not just Honolulu residents, must feel this pain, because our garbage also is shipped out of our backyard – not by barge, but by rail, to central Oregon, where it is piled in someone else’s big empty backyard.

Some good news is emerging from that big empty backyard this week. Turns out that methane gas created as garbage decomposes is being created for domestic use at half the cost of wind power and being sold back to Seattle from the same landfill in Oregon.

The energy plant in Arlington, Ore., where Seattle sends about 400,000 tons of trash each year,  provides Seattle about 5.78 average megawatts – enough to power 5,625 homes, writes Emily Heffter in the Seattle Times. The energy produced costs half as much as wind power. What's more, the city expects to be producing more renewable energy in this manner.

Rita Hibbard's picture

Shrink-wrapped bales of Hawaiian garbage headed for the Columbia River and a landfill near you

What do you think about shrink-wrapped bales of garbage barged from tropical Hawaii across the Pacific down the once-fierce Columbia River to Longview? Just doesn't sound like a good idea, does it?

rita_hibbardwebDon't feel too good about reports that the plan, hatched about six months ago by Seattle-based Hawaiian Waste Systems,  may have hit a snag, reports The Longview Daily News reporter Andre Stepankowsky. It's likely to prove only a temporary delay. Getting an amendment to its federal permit has taken longer than expected, a company official says. The amendment involves a change of plans -- instead of shipping all the way to the Roosevelt Landfill in central Washington, the garbage would be barged to lower Columbia ports, from where it would make the rest of the journey by truck or train, saving time.

Already, 300 tons of Honolulu garbage is stacked up at a port there, shrink-wrapped in tight bales, awaiting transport to the scenic Pacific Northwest. Officials are concerned it may become a health hazard.

The plan has already survived a review by the Department of Agriculture, which found that if the garbage was shrink-wrapped, those pesky nonnative pests couldn't get out. Yeah, I'm sure that's absolutely never gonna happen. The Vancouver Columbian writes:

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the company’s original plan to barge the waste directly to Roosevelt.