Fayetteville, AR Waste Reduction Coordinator says it’s just a matter of time before a private company puts a single stream facility in NW Arkansas.

What a great way to keep America addicted to oil. Add to the single stream mess, food-soiled paper disposables. As long as we think we’re recycling all will be well!  The problems with this latest greatest ANSWER to our solid waste problems are stated in the last several paragraphs of this article.

Recently the Koch Brothers’ privately-held company, Georgia Pacific (GP), announced their new recycling project, dubbed JUNO. It’s called that because the Roman Goddess JUNO is considered the protector of the state. GP says project JUNO will help protect Mother Earth.

For more than 60 years GP has been recycling wood waste from saw milling by grinding down wood chips into heavy brown paper. That brown paper is used to make cardboard. The JUNO project will utilize soiled paper towels, food-soiled plates, cups, napkins, takeout cartons, etc. GP will sanitize and recycle the above-mentioned paper fiber into new paper products, like pizza boxes and packaging.

Because they need volume, GP will partner with garbage hauling companies in metropolitan areas in the Pacific Northwest. The garbage haulers will collect the soiled paper from restaurants, sports arenas, schools, airports, fast food joints, and large-scale office buildings. For years, major garbage hauling corporations have been the advocates of single stream/co-mingled recycling, and they now control much of America’s recyclable resource stream.

GP spokesmen say the feedstock for JUNO (the soiled paper products) will arrive in one-ton bales of commercial waste that have no odor or leakage. Uh huh. My tiny kitchen compost bucket has odor before it’s even full, and it excludes meat scraps. Where and how long will these bales of food-coated waste be stored before processing?

The JUNO experiment has been in development for about seven years. The GP plant in Savannah, GA  has been running the technology for the past four years. The JUNO project will move to GP’s Toledo, Oregon paper mill for a soft launch. The goal is a commercial-scale operation capable of processing 300 tons/daily of food-soiled paper and other waste.

JUNO is a patented technology that separates and sterilizes the paper fiber from food waste and other contaminates, using a sanitizing process known as autoclaving. That means the mixed commercial waste is loaded into a pressure vessel and mixed with water. The pressurized contents are heated to 212 degrees or higher while the vessel contents are being turned. A screen separates the partially re-pulped waste paper. GP has applied for a solid waste material handling facility permit, as well as modifications to its existing air and water emissions permits.

Mixed in with these food-soiled loads will be plastic, aluminum cans, etc. The JUNO process will have the ability to sort out plastics and metals, so GP can sell those commodities as well. The plastic and metal commodities could potentially multiply the value of the whole proposition, according to a GP employee.

Another GP official said that if the Toledo demonstration is successful, GP might consider licensing the technology to recyclers looking for a better way to sort materials. Sounds like single stream to me. If all goes well, JUNO could be up and running by first quarter 2020.

Those who think that “recycling” is the solution to all of our solid waste problems will be thrilled with JUNO. To those people lacking in-the-trench recycling experience (including policy makers, environmental activists, and citizens), JUNO will be music to their ears, “MORE recycling”. While recycling is good, this approach leaves room for widespread abuse. With private companies there is NO transparency, so who knows what might end up in a landfill or waste-to-energy (WTE) facility, when you thought the stuff was being recycled, i.e. made into new product and returned to the market place.

Will Georgia Pacific pay the consumers, or will the consumers be paying Georgia Pacific? Folks in Conyers, GA pay Pratt paper to collect their single stream recycling. Pratt has an incinerator sitting between their paper mill and their single stream facility. The incinerator powers the paper mill. Conyers does not have a transparency ordinance regarding the processing of its recyclables.

JUNO, like single stream, will send the message “Continue your mindless consumption habit of single-use items and disposable paper products. As long you place stuff in the recycle bin, you are being responsible, and acting sustainably. No need to think beyond the recycle bin, it’s not your worry after you put it in the bin.”

Hasn’t single stream screwed up recycling enough?

  • How do you think our carbon footprint will be affected with even more dirty, mindless recycling?
  • How much energy is it going to take to clean up this nasty, nasty mess?
  • Who profits with excessive energy usage needed to clean up dirty recycling?
  • Who wins when we waste?
  • Who loses when we reuse?

How did we get so far away from The THREE R’s (Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle), which had reduction/reuse as the top priorities? Recycling programs were supposed to be low tech, small scale, and the lowest priority. Low tech, clean, honest, and transparent recycling provided good jobs for local people and local businesses, not mega corporations. It’s becoming so expensive to clean up nasty recycling that only a few private huge corporations are getting the corner on the market.

Surely no one reading this article thinks our planet can survive all 7 billion (plus) people mindlessly consuming at the rate Americans do? Activists in the seriously sustainable movement know that Zero Waste means less recycling, not more.

Even though it might not meet the legal definition, major garbage hauling corporations and the Kochs could gain a monopoly-like control over our recyclable resources in the near future. How much transparency can we expect with private companies? How will we know what actually gets recycled, and what ends up in a landfill or waste-to-energy plant? GP Harmon, a subsidiary of Georgia Pacific, did the single stream pilot for Fayetteville, AR in 2016. The City of Fayetteville entered into a contract with (Koch owned) GP Harmon that virtually eliminated transparency. Off the record reports stated the loads were so gross that there were rats as big as cats jumping from the filthy single stream loads.

What do you think will happen to the fees we pay for disposal and dirty recycling when our recyclables are totally controlled by private companies? Christer Henriksson is a GP company executive overseeing the JUNO project. He says that GP is working to establish agreements with regional partners in the waste supply chain. If the project is successful JUNO could go company wide. Georgia Pacific is the main buyer of paper from Fayetteville, buying 654 tons just last year. Was Georgia Pacific (or subsidiary GP Harmon) the private company Brian Pugh was referring to when he said it was just a matter of time before a private company put a single stream facility in NWAR?

Copyright  ©  Louise G. Mann,  27 July 2018

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