Transition from linear waste streams to innovative reuse of materials, cont'd. GOALS Two regional goals were identified during the development of this plan: 1. Reduce the amount of solid waste generated 2. Increase the percentage of materials recycled or reused
STRATEGIES The following implementation strategies were established as the most essential to meeting these goals: • Conduct regional research on material management contract-
ing and disposal fees to help determine best practices that can be shared regionally to improve local decision-making for 1. material management. • Encourage counties and planning units to adopt single-stream or zero-sort recycling. 2. • Increase the number of composting and digester facilities to reduce the volume of food and yard waste sent to landfills, and to create a useable product (fertilizers). • Explore and promote market opportunities for recyclable and recovered materials.
The outcomes of these efforts are intended to overlap with the other economic and sustainability goals within this plan by (a) increasing regional employment, (b) reducing transportation miles and costs, and (c) reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions through reduced transportation and landfilling needs. An additional benefit will be extending the life of existing landfills and reducing the need for landfill expansion within the region. The key challenge in the North Country, as elsewhere in New York State and nationally, is to foster and achieve a paradigm shift in how individuals, businesses, and policy makers view materials typically targeted for disposal. This material is not just waste; it is a resource to be extracted, managed and remarketed. While the region as a whole has not as yet made this shift, communities, individuals, and private companies are beginning to embrace the vision. Two examples include: Casella’s Zero-Sort program: a single-stream recycling program that has increased overall participation rates in recycling in every area where the program is offered. The Town of North Elba anaerobic digester: a project currently in the planning stage, it will remove organic materials from the waste stream and divert it to a digester. The process will reduce the volume of disposed waste, generate energy, and reduce GHG emissions from landfills. It will also provide local employment and create valuable secondary products such as compost.
Is Renewable Energy Contagious?
Outside of policy debates over tax credits and carbon pricing, something much simpler may be holding back the spread of renewable energy: its novelty. A joint study between Yale and NYU found a “peer effect” among neighbors with solar installations. When one household installs solar, researchers found that it increases the likelihood that nearby houses will follow suit. The study attributed findings to both word-of-mouth information sharing and a culture of one-upmanship. The results held true even after controlling for other possible influences, such as regional marketing efforts and clustering between people of similar environmental preferences. A review of the data found that 10 extra installations in a zip code increase the probability of another homeowner adopting solar by 7.8 percent. If a zip code experiences a 10 percent increase in solar installations, the adoption of solar will increase by 54 percent, according to the study. Source: (Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels, September 2012 Marketing Science.)
North Country Region Sustainability Plan