The Garbage Has To Go Somewhere: Pat Clark Guest Editorial

"The garbage has to go somewhere." In this Scranton Times-Tribune Guest Editorial, FOL core member, Pat Clark, explains the flawed, short-sighted logic of that statement and outlines why we need to be moving forward to a circular economy that eliminates waste, and not backward by tripling down on an antiquated industry.

Excepts Below. Full Story Here

 One hundred billion pounds of garbage already have been deposited in Lackawanna County’s two megadumps — Alliance Sanitary Landfill and Keystone Sanitary Landfill. If the expansion that Keystone proposes gets approved, that number will more than triple.

Trying to justify this expansion defies logic and one of the attempts we hear most often is that “the garbage has got to go somewhere.” However, using that argument to justify this proposed expansion is flawed, lazy, shortsighted and encourages poor policy.

First, there is already plenty of available landfill space for garbage and any argument claiming that expansions are needed due to a landfill capacity shortage is a myth. In reality, there is no landfill capacity shortage on a national, state or local level...

Next, actively seeking and approving landfill expansions is a backward-looking policy. Instead of seeking more landfill space, progressive communities and companies around the world are aggressively doing the exact opposite...

The future is clear and it does not involve expanding landfills. It involves a more sustainable, circular world with alternative approaches to handling waste. However, as long as an excess supply of cheap landfill space remains, and as long as unneeded expansions such as Keystone’s are approved, the sustainable shift will be hindered and any impetus for creating a strong policy to support that shift becomes the proverbial can kicked down the road. In Keystone’s case, it’s a very long road...

...Further, Northeast Pennsylvania has already gone above and beyond the call of duty for society in how much waste we have taken. One hundred billion is a lot of anything, let alone pounds of garbage buried in our valley.

So we find ourselves at an inflection point. Progressive companies, cities and countries are speeding toward a future of eliminating as much waste as possible. Do we want to be part of that smarter future? Or would we rather watch Keystone’s expansion send our area in the exact opposite direction, cementing our reputation as a dumping ground for decades to come?

It’s time for our area to look forward, not back. It’s time to get ahead of the curve, not triple down on an antiquated industry. It’s time to plan for a brighter future, not to block out the sun with a mountain of garbage.