Delaware County Hosts First of Three Public Workshops on Road to Zero Waste

PHOTO SUBMITTED

An aerial view of the Covanta factory in Chester.

UPPER DARBY — Members of Zero Waste Associates engaged members of the public at the Vendors Memorial Library Thursday night as they worked to identify guiding principles for a plan that will determine how the county will handle its waste over the next decade.

“One of the things we’re going to do is develop a set of guiding principles — what are the values ​​that are important in the county to guide the development of the plan,” explained Amy Perlmutter of Zero Waste Associates. “What are the things that interest you in terms of the principles that guide us? »

Pennsylvania Law 101 requires Delaware County to update its 10-Year Municipal Waste Management Plan, last completed in 2013. It sets the direction for waste management over the next decade. The plan is expected in 2023.

Currently, each year approximately 370,000 tonnes of waste is taken directly to Covanta’s waste-to-steam plant in Chester and a further 30,000 tonnes are trucked directly to the Rolling Hills Landfill in Berks County. Ash from the Covanta facility is also sent to landfill.

In November, the Delaware County Council hired Zero Waste Associates for a 12-month period to help the county develop a waste management plan that moves toward integrating zero waste strategies.

Thursday’s meeting was the first public workshop offered and focused on “goals and guiding principles.”

Attendees were given an overview of the process undertaken by the Delaware County Sustainability Commission in creating the plan with a draft final plan expected to be completed in the summer and the final plan completed in the fall.

Additionally, they were given a list of 33 principles and asked to choose eight that would guide the strategies developed in the 10-year plan. Some of the choices included: protecting public health; protect the environment; equity and inclusion center; waste less, divert more; respect workers; leading by example; create a culture of zero waste; create more jobs; educate everyone; support new zero-waste technologies; providing cost-effective solutions to municipalities; and reduce greenhouse gases.

Perlmutter said she expects the eight primary values ​​to be identified within the next two weeks.

“Zero waste is a goal,” she told attendees that the aggressiveness of this implementation must be determined if it is a 90% reduction in waste in 10 years or more. of a longer-term goal with milestones achieved at various intervals.

Jim McLaughlin, chairman of the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority, was one of the attendees.

“I think there’s an opportunity, depending on how the county ultimately evolves, to model the kind of behavior that we would want other communities to adopt,” he said. “We have to decide what our message is and then try to model it well for other communities. Whatever that message ends up being, it will be important, but it will have to be a community message. It cannot be just one group in particular. It should be a community message that everyone buys into.

McLaughlin added that for the plan to work effectively, it will be important that Delaware County’s 49 municipalities understand and appreciate their role in participating.

“I believe this is a plan that works for all 49 municipalities — that it’s cost effective, that it’s attractive, that it meets the needs of all 49,” he said. “We want to have a plan that can work for the whole county.”

More information is available at delcopa.gov/workshops. The next session, which will focus on zero waste initiatives, will take place May 26 at 6 p.m. at the Norwood Public Library, 513 Welcome Ave. at Norwood. Another will be held at 6 p.m. on June 30 at the Ridley Township Public Library and Resource Center, 100 St. Joseph Blvd. MacDade. in Folsom and will highlight elements of the draft plan.

Interim public hearings are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 25 and another at the county council meeting at 6 p.m. on October 19.

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