In some parts of the country, developers who damage or destroy wetlands are mitigating that by buying credits for wetlands that have been created somewhere else. It’s called “wetland banking” and it’s similar to banking programs for air pollution. Wetland banking resulted from state and federal efforts to stop the loss of wetlands nationwide. The GLRC’s Erin Toner reports:
In some parts of the country, developers who damage or destroy
wetlands are making up for it by buying credits for wetlands that have
been created somewhere else. It’s called “wetland banking” and it’s
similar to banking programs for air pollution. Wetland banking resulted
from state and federal efforts to stop the loss of wetlands nationwide.
The GLRC’s Erin Toner reports:
J.B Ruhl is a professor of property at Florida State University. He
compiled a list of all wetland banking transactions in Florida. Ruhl
found a clear shift of wetlands from urban areas to rural areas, taking
environmental services away from cities.
Ruhl says wetlands provide flood and storm surge control, capture
pollution and recharge groundwater.
“If you take that wetland out, you’ve lost some value that you have to
either replace by building cement storm water ponds and all the other
things that could kind of replicate the wetland. Or, you just don’t replace
them, and either way you’re either spending money to replace the
wetland or you’re spending money to deal with the problems that arise
when the wetland is gone.”
Ruhl says the federal government should keep better track of where
wetlands are being lost and where they’re being replaced – and of the
environmental costs and benefits of those transactions.
School districts tend to like bigger homes on larger lots because
the districts rely so heavily on property taxes. (Photo courtesy of USDA)
Each year, Americans build a staggering one and a half million new homes. A lot of environmentalists say too many of these houses are big, single family homes on spacious lots. They say that wastes farmland and natural areas. But suburban planners say they’re forced to build that way by local governments, such as school districts. The GLRC’s Shawn Allee has more:
Each year, Americans build a staggering one and a half million new
homes. A lot of environmentalists say too many of these houses are big,
single family homes on spacious lots. They say that wastes farmland and
natural areas, but suburban planners say they’re forced to build that way
by local governments, such as school districts. The GLRC’s Shawn
Allee has more:
Jamie Bigelow makes a living building houses in suburbia. He takes a
dim view of his profession. For Bigelow, most suburbs don’t let
neighbors be… well, good neighbors. After all, homes are too far apart
for people to really meet one another and everyone has to drive far for
work or to just go shopping. According to Bigelow, families are looking
for something better.
“We believe there’s a growing market for people who want to be
interconnected and live in interconnected neighborhoods and housing,
primarily in the suburbs, no longer supplies that.”
So, about ten years ago, Bigelow and his father tried building one of these
interconnected neighborhoods in a Chicago suburb. They wanted shops
and parks nearby. They also wanted to close some streets to cars, so kids
could play safely near home, but one detail nearly derailed the project.
Under the plan, houses would sit close together on small lots. The local
zoning board hated this idea. According to Bigelow, they said small houses
would break the local school district’s budget.
“They want large houses on large lots, because for the school district,
that will give them a lot of taxes with not as many kids because there’s
not as many houses.”
The planners wanted Bigelow to build bigger, pricier houses. Bigelow and his
family fought that and eventually won. They did build that compact suburban
neighborhood, but victories like that are rare. Often, the area’s local
governments try to protect schools’ tax revenue by promoting large homes and lawns.
“They’re actually behaving, or reacting, very rationally.”
That’s MarySue Barrett of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a
Chicago-based planning and advocacy group. She says growth
sometimes overwhelms schools, and it can catch taxpayers and parents
“They don’t have the revenue from their local property tax to pay for
hiring new teachers, so their class sizes become thirty-two, thirty-three.
And that family who said, Wait a minute, I came out here for good schools, now
I’m going to an overcrowded school? It’s the last thing I thought was
going to happen.”
From the schools’ perspective, larger lot sizes solve this problem. Big
lots mean fewer kids per acre. Larger houses bring in more property
taxes. That means higher taxes cover costs for the few kids who do
Barrett says the trend’s strongest in states like Illinois, where schools rely
heavily on property taxes. She says in the short term, the strategy keeps
schools flush, but it also pushes the suburban frontier outward, into rural
areas. That wastes land and hurts our quality of life.
(Sound of kids coming out of school)
The day’s over for this high school in Northern Illinois. A throng of
teens heads toward a line of thirty yellow school buses. Some of them
spend up to three hours per day riding between school and home.
Inside, Superintendent Charles McCormick explains what’s behind the
long rides. He says the district’s large size is partly to blame, but there’s
another reason. The area’s subdivisions are spread among corn fields,
far from existing towns and from each other.
“Well, the land use pattern itself disperses the students, so when you look
at what bus routing means, the position of one student can add ten to
fifteen minutes to a route.”
McCormick says local governments in his school district encouraged big
homes and lots, but even his schools can barely keep up with the costs of
educating new students. He says suburban planners just can’t risk
bringing in smaller homes and more kids.
“Well, if you were to run a business the way growth affects school districts,
you’d be broke because you cannot keep up with rapid growth that produces
for every student, a deficit.”
That’s because even high property taxes don’t fully pay for each
Land use experts say reliance on property taxes for education puts
suburbs in a tight spot. Some want to try allowing smaller homes or
even apartments, but school funding’s a stumbling block.
Like other reformers, MarySue Barrett has been pushing for an
alternative. She wants state government to kick in a bigger share of
education dollars. The idea’s to have enough funding for each kid, regardless
of how large or expensive their home is.
“And if we have a different way of paying for our schools that’s less
dependent on the property tax, we’ll begin to move away from this
problem that’s put a choke hold on so many communities.”
It will be an uphill fight, because states are reluctant to change their tax
structures, but Barrett says it’s the worth the political cost. She says, if
we want alternatives to suburban sprawl and its traffic congestion, we
need new ways to pay for education.
Burning trash smells bad and it can create the conditions
necessary to produce dioxin. If livestock are exposed to that dioxin, it
can get into the meat and milk we consume, creating health risks. (Photo
courtesy of the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance)
For most of us, getting rid of the garbage is as simple as setting it at the curb. But not everyone can get garbage pick-up. So, instead, they burn their trash. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports… that choice could be affecting your health:
For most of us, getting rid of the garbage is as simple as setting it at the
curb, but not everyone can get garbage pick-up. So, instead, they burn
their trash. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham
reports… that choice could be affecting your health:
(Sound of garbage trucks)
It’s not been that long ago that people everywhere but in the largest cities
burned their trash in a barrel or pit in the backyard. That’s not as often
the case these days. Garbage trucks make their appointed rounds in
cities, small towns, and in some rural areas, but they don’t pick up
Everywhere, or if they do offer service, it’s much more expensive
because the pick-up is so far out in the country.
Roger Booth lives in a rural area in southwestern Illinois. He says
garbage pick-up is not an option for him.
“Well, we burn it and then bury the ashes and things. We don’t have a
good way to dispose of it any other method. The cost of having pick up
arranged is prohibitive.”
He burns his garbage in the backyard. Booth separates bottles and tin
cans from the rest of the garbage so that he doesn’t end up with broken
glass and rusty cans scattered around.
A lot of people don’t do that much. They burn everything in a barrel and
then dump the ashes and scrap in a gully… or just burn everything in a
gully or ditch. Booth says that’s the way most folks take care of the
garbage in the area. No one talks about the smoke or fumes put off by
“I haven’t ever thought much about that. So, I don’t suppose that I have
any real concerns at this moment. I don’t think I’m doing anything
different than most people.”
And that’s what many people who burn their garbage say.
A survey conducted by the Zenith Research Group found that people in
areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota who didn’t have regular garbage
collection believe burning is a viable option to get rid of their household
and yard waste. Nearly 45-percent of them indicated it was
“convenient,” which the researchers interpreted to mean that even if
garbage pick-up were available, the residents might find more convenient
to keep burning their garbage.
While some cities and more densely populated areas have restricted
backyard burning… state governments in all but a handful of states in
New England and the state of California have been reluctant to put a lot
of restrictions on burning barrels.
But backyard burning can be more than just a stinky nuisance. Burning
garbage can bring together all the conditions necessary to produce
dioxin. Dioxin is a catch-all term that includes several toxic compounds.
The extent of their impact on human health is not completely know, but
they’re considered to be very dangerous to human health in the tiniest
Since most of the backyard burning is done in rural areas, livestock are
exposed to dioxin and it gets into the meat and milk that we consume.
John Giesy is with the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center at
Michigan State University. He says as people burn garbage, the dioxins
are emitted in the fumes and smoke…
“So, when they fall out onto the ground or onto the grass, then animals
eat those plants and it becomes part of their diet, and ultimately it’s
accumulated into the animal and it’s stored as fat. Now, particularly with
dairy cattle, one of the concerns about being exposed to dioxins is that
then when they’re producing milk, milk has fat it in, it has butter fat in it,
and the dioxins go along with that.”
So, every time we drink milk, snack on cheese, or eat a hamburger, we
risk getting a small dose of dioxin. Beyond that, vegetables from a
farmer’s garden, if not properly washed, could be coated with dioxins,
and even a miniscule amount of dioxin is risky.
John Giesy says chemical manufacturing plants and other sources of
man-made dioxin have been cleaned up. Now, backyard burning is the
biggest source of dioxins produced by humans.
“So, now as we continue to strive to reduce the amount of dioxins in the
environment and in our food, this is one place where we can make an
“That’s the concern. That’s the concern, is that it’s the largest remaining
source of produced dioxin.”
Dan Hopkins is with the Environmental Protection Agency. He says,
collectively, backyard burning produces 50 times the amount of dioxin as
all the large and medium sized incinerators across the nation combined.
That’s because the incinerators burn hot enough to destroy dioxins and
have pollution control devices to limit emissions. Backyard burning
doesn’t get nearly that hot and the smoke and fumes spread unchecked.
The EPA wants communities to take the problem of backyard burning
seriously. It wants state and local governments to do more to make
people aware that backyard burning is contaminating our food and
encourage them to find other ways to get rid of their garbage.
“(It) probably won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, but by exchanging
successful efforts that other communities have had, we should be able to
help communities fashion approaches that have a high probability of
But public education efforts are expensive, and often they don’t reach the
people who most need to hear them. The EPA is not optimistic that it
will see everyone stop burning their garbage. It’s not even a goal. The
agency is just hoping enough people will find other ways to get rid of
their trash that the overall dioxin level in food is reduced.
Sunday mass is much emptier than it used to be at St. Josaphat Parish in Detroit. Only a few dozen Catholics attend mass here each Sunday, though there's room for 1200 - many parishioners have moved to newer churches in the suburbs. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
The polish church was founded in 1889. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
When people left inner cities, many things followed. Newer, better schools were built in the suburbs. And strip malls and shopping centers sprang up. But back in cities, stores and restaurants shut down. Schools and churches also closed. Now, the Catholic church is encouraging people to work together to prevent more urban sprawl. Catholic clergy say they don’t want to close perfectly good churches and cathedrals only to build new ones farther and farther out into the suburbs. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
When people left inner cities, many things followed. Newer, better schools were built in the
suburbs. And strip malls and shopping centers sprang up. But back in cities, stores and restaurants
shut down. Schools and churches also closed. Now, the Catholic church is encouraging people to
work together to prevent more urban sprawl. Catholic clergy say they don’t want to close perfectly
good churches and cathedrals only to build new ones farther and farther out into the suburbs. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Twenty-five years ago, Loraine Krajewski lost nearly everything. She lost her home and she lost
her church. Both were demolished when General Motors built a sprawling auto plant over
Poletown, a Polish-American neighborhood at the border of Detroit. Krajewski says it was the fight
of her life.
“I did things I never thought I would do. I picketed, I mean, in rain and snow. I wrote
letters, I mean, to Congressmen and to our council and everything. And I went to meetings
that would last until one, two o’clock in the morning at times, and I took time off from work
to go downtown to the council meetings.”
Krajewski was mad at the city of Detroit for letting it happen. And she was mad at the Catholic
Church in Detroit for not fighting the project. But not mad enough to leave the church. Krajewski
and others forced out of Poletown found a new parish in the city, called St. Josaphat.
Krajewski headed for the suburbs after Poletown disappeared. But she still returns to the city every
Sunday for Mass at St. Josaphat. It’s a 15-mile trip.
“We decided we are not going to let another Polish church go down the drain. And that’s
why I’ve been coming here. It’s just too bad that we don’t have a larger congregation.”
More parishioners would make Krajewski feel more sure that St. Josaphat would always be here,
that it was safe from closing down. But it’s not safe. Only a few dozen Catholics show up here
anymore for Mass on Sunday. And the church can hold 12-hundred people.
Father Mark Borkowski is the pastor at St. Josaphat. He says people like Krajewski, who are
coming from 10, 15 or 20 miles away, are the only ones keeping his church open. But just barely.
“If we were to live on Sunday collections alone, the parish would not be able to survive. So
with our monthly fundraising dinners, we can survive. But there’s a difference between
surviving and flourishing.”
People left the churches when they left the city for bigger plots of land and better schools. And the
Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit followed its people. Catholics built new churches in the suburbs.
But now, the Archdiocese is rethinking its role in urban sprawl.
Father Ken Kaucheck is on the Detroit Archdiocese urban sprawl committee. He says the church is
concerned about sprawl because it creates social and economic inequities between cities and
“It creates blight. It creates loss, it creates desolation and desecration. And it destroys not
only communities, but therefore, it destroys the lives of people.”
Kaucheck says the main tenet of the church’s anti-sprawl campaign is encouraging local
governments to work together on economic development. He says if communities are not trying to
one up each other to win new development projects, there would be less incentive for companies to
move farther into rural areas.
Kaucheck says the church wants its priests to talk about sprawl in their Sunday sermons. He calls it
“stirring the population” to affect social change.
“It’s government of the people, for the people and by the people. That’s what a democracy
is about. But somebody has to raise the question and you raise the question, faith-based,
through the scriptures. Is this what the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to? No, it doesn’t call
us to sprawl, it calls us to solidarity in community, and to looking at how service of one
another sometimes means dying to myself, that means maybe I’m going to have to give
It isn’t likely the church’s urban sprawl committee will be able do much to bring people back to
parishes in the city. Father Mark Borkowski at St. Josaphat prays about the problem to the
Madonna. Her picture is at the center of the church’s main altar.
“My personal reason for the novena is to say to the Blessed Virgin Mary, ‘I haven’t got a
clue as to what to do, so I’m turning the problem over to you. This is your shrine, if you
want to stay here Mary, do something to help us help you stay, and help us stay here. When
the problem is too big you have to turn it over to a higher power.'”
The Catholic Church now hopes to protect churches that could become the next victims of sprawl.
Those are in places that once served the early waves of Catholics leaving Detroit for the first
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Erin Toner.
Spray drift from pesticides might travel farther and last longer than first thought. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Spray drift from pesticides might travel farther and last longer than first thought. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Pesticide drift – the spray, droplets, and dust that’s stirred up during application – has always been
a health concern, but a study by the California Air Resources Board combined with other studies,
found that pesticide drift lasts longer than just the moment of application.
Susan Kegley is a scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America:
“It turns out that for many pesticides, the greater part of the drift happens in the hours and days
and even weeks after the pesticide is applied and these levels are high enough to be of concern.
And right now, EPA does not look at those types of exposures for most of the pesticides it
Groups wanted stricter rules on pesticide handling are calling for more studies saying that
pesticide drift might be responsible for higher rates of cancer and other health problems in rural
areas surrounded by farmland being sprayed with pesticides.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
This farm in Manistee County, Michigan is using a water efficient irrigation system. Large-scale farm irrigation is drying up wells in some parts of the region. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Land Use Institute)
In the Great Lakes region, the idea of not having enough water is ridiculous to most people. But that’s beginning to change. Environmentalists are sounding the alarm that water tables are being threatened in some areas. And they’re calling on policymakers to rein in the farms and industries that are putting the biggest drain on those resources. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett has this report:
In the Great Lakes/Midwest region, the idea of not having enough water is ridiculous to most
people. But that’s beginning to change. Environmentalists are sounding the alarm that water tables
are being threatened in some areas. And they’re calling on policy makers to rein in the farms and
industries that are putting the biggest drain on those resources. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Sarah Hulett has this report:
In a region that holds the world’s largest freshwater supply, worries about water scarcity are
beginning to creep into dinnertable discussions. Here in rural central Michigan, about 200
households have complained that their wells have dropped or gone dry during the summer months.
“Most kids are looking forward to summer vacation, getting out of school. My kids dread
Susan Rodriguez is the mother of six children. She says her well first went dry about three years
ago. That was shortly after two large-scale farms began watering their crops with high-capacity
irrigation wells. Those farms together can use as much water as 11,000 households. Since then,
the summers have been dry, and difficult – because there’s no water in the house. Rodriguez says
they do what they can to get by. They don’t have the money to put in a new well. So during the
irrigation season, she and the kids go to a cemetery. It’s about a half-mile from their house, and it
has a hand pump. The family fills five-gallon buckets to bring home so they can flush the toilet…
“We buy bottled water for drinking, we buy paper plates and paper cups so I don’t have to wash
dishes. We go to neighbors for showering, for bathing. We eat out a lot because you can’t really
cook without water. It gets real expensive.”
Rodriguez and several other families began lobbying their state lawmakers for relief. And this could
be the year that they get some. Legislation introduced by Michigan lawmakers takes two
approaches. One would set up a means for people to take their grievances to state officials. The
other would require industries and farms with high-capacity wells to apply for a state permit if they
want to operate in areas where there are groundwater disputes.
Business groups are reacting with skepticism to any plan that would impose limits on water use.
Mike Johnston is with the Michigan Manufacturers Association.
“Our first position would be there’s no regulation needed at all. Having said that, we recognize the
political will is going in a different direction.”
And that different direction is being led by environmentalists. Noah Hall is the water resource
program manager for the National Wildlife Federation.
“Right now, the state of Michigan has basically no protections in place for our groundwater and
aquifers. Nothing that protects well owners, or protects the rivers and streams that depends on
underground aquifers. Other states in the Great Lakes region do have some protections in place.
And so Michigan is pretty far behind the curve right now on this.”
None of the regulations being considered in the Michigan Legislature would be as strong as what’s
already on the books in Wisconsin and Minnesota. But the Manufacturers Association’s Mike
Johnston says Michigan’s deep glacial cavities hold an ample supply of water. He says any
regulation should be very narrowly crafted.
“Michigan has vast groundwater supplies. There are a few areas of the state, very specific and
limited areas where they have certain geologies that cause challenges for groundwater. That’s just
not true across the state.”
Susan Rodriguez doesn’t care how it gets resolved. She just wants to make sure she and her family
have water once the irrigation pumps start back up in the summer.
“My oldest son, he hears a lot and he watches the television, and he was having nightmares that
people were coming in and taking him and his sister away. Taking them out of their home, because
we didn’t have water. That was really hard.”
(sound of water running)
In the few months left until the growing season, when irrigation starts up again, Susan Rodriguez is
storing water. Her friends at work bring her milk jugs and orange juice containers that she fills from
her well while she still has water.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Sarah Hulett.
Eleven million acres of prime farmland were lost to
urban sprawl in a 15 year period. Some small cities are embracing
the growth and helping developers circumvent so-called Smart Growth
restrictions on sprawl.
The U.S. has lost millions of acres of productive farmland in the last decade to urban sprawl. Researchers say state and county officials are seeing Smart Growth plans circumvented by politicians in small cities. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The US has lost millions of acres of productive farmland in the last decade to urban sprawl. Researchers say state and county officials are seeing smart growth plans circumvented by politicians in small cities. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
Most states have passed legislation or are looking at doing so to reduce urban sprawl. Even some counties are working to restrict development to certain areas. But often developers approach small cities, promising increased tax revenues and infrastructure if the town annexes large areas of surrounding land for the developers. Rich Green is a geographer at Northern Illinois University. He says some small town officials don’t see past their own city limits.
“And in some respects, they may overlook the regional concerns to benefit their own territory, developers, shopping malls, retailers, playing one municipality off the other in terms of getting the best deal to locate.”
And so long debated plans to manage growth become nothing more than lines on a map, while natural areas and farmland are replaced by subdivisions and parking lots. Green says that’s led to eleven million acres of prime farmland being taken out of production in the fertile Midwest and East in a 15 year period due to urban sprawl. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Residents in many states find that large appliances are not allowed in
landfills. It's hard to get anyone to pick up things like tires, old
washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
If a resident can transport the
appliance, some salvage yards will accept it for a fee. The salvage
yards are supposed to recover refrigerant gases from refrigerators,
freezers, and air conditioners, because those gases damage the ozone
People have been secretly dumping old appliances almost as long as companies have made them. Too often, clean-up crews find old stoves, water heaters, and even refrigerators that people have thrown away improperly. Even the threat of big fines has not stopped the practice. So now, some Great Lakes states are beginning to set up programs to accept the old appliances. They’ve found it’s more effective than having to pick them up out of roadside ditches. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
People have been secretly dumping old appliances almost as long as companies have made them. Too often, clean-up crews find old stoves, water heaters, and even refrigerators that people have thrown away improperly. Even the threat of big fines has not stopped the practice. So now, some Great Lakes states are beginning to set up programs to accept the old appliances. They’ve found it’s more effective than having to pick them up out of roadside ditches. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
It might be against the law to dump an old refrigerator or washing machine, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people each year from doing just that. And the reasons are simple, it’s hard to find a place that will take them, and those that do take them often charge a fee.
It got to be more of a problem in the 1980’s. Several states banned large appliances from landfills because they took up too much space. So, homeowners were left to their own devices to get rid of them. Then at about the same time, an increase in cheap imported steel forced down the price being paid for scrap metal. So anymore, fewer scavengers are making fewer rounds to pick up old appliances. That’s because much of the time, it just doesn’t pay. But, the few times when prices do get high enough, some of the scavengers will even pull appliances out of illegal dumping grounds to cart off and sell to steel recyclers. Greg Crawford is with the Steel Recycling Institute. He says the scrap metal market can have a great affect on where old appliances end up.
“That happens routinely year in and year out as the prices cyclically go up and down. And it is money. It is the scrap value of the iron and steel in the appliances that encourages the peddler trade to make these collection runs and then bring the appliances back into the scrap dealers.”
Besides looking horrible, dumping can also damage the environment. Many old appliances such as refrigerators, deep freezes and air conditioners contain coolant gases such as CFC’s that damage the ozone layer. If those gases aren’t captured, they’ll eventually leak out of the appliances. That’s why some governments are trying to come up with new ways to the problem of appliance disposal. Arley Owens is with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He says Ohio is helping to lead an effort to make sure unwanted appliances are disposed of properly.
“We basically had to ask the question ‘Do you want to collect the appliances that people may illegally dump?’ Because in some cases when you don’t have enough money in your budget to buy food or to make ends meet for that particular month, there’s no way you’re going to take an appliance half-way across the county and then be charged a fee for the drop off and then the evacuation of the CFCs, which could run as much as anywhere from 30 to 40 to 75 dollars depending on the location.”
In Ohio, Owens says, each year the state gives each county’s solid waste management district a thousand dollars to publicize a drop-off period in the spring. Then, working with steel recyclers, they remove the CFC’s and send those old appliances to Ohio’s steel mills to be melted down for new products. But, most states don’t have such a program. In some cases, appliance stores will dispose of the old equipment for little or no cost when they deliver a new replacement. But, many of the large retail chains don’t. So those customers are on their own.
Some solid waste experts say that should change. Dana Duxbury-Fox has been a consultant on solid waste issues. She says someone should be responsible for making sure every big appliance will be recycled properly.
“And in my ideal world the manufacturer has that responsibility. If they made it –and particularly with products that have hazardous constituents– if they put those into the marketplace, they should be responsible for keeping it out of it.”
She suggests there should be a deposit on appliances, or a fixed cost included in the price that would pay for recycling services at the end of the life of the appliance. But those kinds of programs are hard to sell to lawmakers. That’s because despite the very real problem o illegal dumping. Big appliances are already being recycled at a higher rate than most steel products. In fact, according to the steel recycling institute, the recycling rate for big appliances increased from forty-one percent in 1990 to eighty-four percent last year. But still that leaves the question of where sixteen out of every hundred appliances end up. Greg Crawford with the Steel Recycling Institute says adding a fee or deposit probably wouldn’t be helpful.
“It would have the effect, really, of being a very expensive add on system that would perhaps get the incremental appliances, but it would be at a very high cost. It would not be the same efficient system that’s already in place, not withstanding the exception of improper dumping that some people erroneously choose to do.”
But, for many areas, especially rural areas’ dumping remains a problem because no one has offered a practical and inexpensive alternative. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.