I write on behalf of the Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA) to express our concern over the recommendations reported by the Solid Waste Plan 2040 Advisory Committee. Specifically, the committee report resembles a holiday wish list with all wants listed and little consideration given to the resources necessarily raised or shifted to obtain them.
The final “systems definition” approved by the Advisory Committee recommends the City develop two new programs, support or expand two programs, ban yard waste from the landfill year-round, undertake a pilot program for composting food waste, acquire or build a new household hazardous waste facility, perform a transfer station feasibility study for south Lincoln, regulate commercial recycling, regulate residential recycling, develop expensive waste conversion technologies, build and run an “Eco-Park” and expand both city landfills. These recommendations evidence the fact that committee members were asked what they wanted without any consideration of the resources necessary. The Advisory Committee recommendations comprise an unattainable wish-list of wants that cannot serve to sensibly guide the governance of any community with limited resources.
The Advisory Committee not only recommended extensive new programs it also set specific waste reduction goals. The report set goals of reducing waste generated by 210 pounds per capita in the next four years and 610 pounds per capita by 2040. However, these goals are not data driven or based on any expert recommendation. The Advisory Committee desired to see recycling increased dramatically and chose arbitrary numbers to express this. These goals were not selected according to any form of cost-benefit analysis revealing an optimal level of waste diversion compared to the demand for recycled materials or capacity to recycle the materials.
This report will now be forwarded to the Mayor’s office and to city staff for further refinement. LIBA implores you to diligently perform the critical task of prioritization. Every dollar spent on new programs is a dollar shifted from another program and one that cannot be dedicated to necessary infrastructure and public safety projects. Every new regulation imposes a cost on the individuals and businesses regulated; these costs raise the cost of doing business in Lincoln and can aggregate to impede a business’s ability to compete.
LIBA believes that recycling and diverting waste from the landfill are meritorious goals, however, LIBA recommends focusing on education not regulation. The city should work with individuals and businesses in the community to educate them about recycling, local recycling resources and other ways to improve waste diversion.
President and CEO
Lincoln Independent Business Association