The following summarizes information presented at a meeting with LFIA on August 20 and a Planning Commission hearing on August 23.
The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) is developing plans to address the issue of too much garbage and no place to dump it. The city is currently able to divert 62% of its solid waste to recycling, which is very good progress (12% above the state average), but they are under state mandate to divert 70%. What to do with your trash comes under the name Solid Waste Integrated Resource Plan (SWIRP) and is part of the Mayor’s and City Council’s RENEW LA Plan. This plan includes not only recycling but also how to convert that yucky stuff in your black can into an energy source. Their ultimate goal is zero waste within the next twenty years.
Many European countries are already using alternative technologies to convert garbage into energy. There are several advantages to these programs. The energy they produce reduces our dependence on foreign oil and the need to built more power plants. They will reduce contaminants and greenhouse gasses from landfills. They will reduce the need for more landfills and produce a marketable resource. Some technologies are biological using bacteria to digest paper to create methane which becomes energy that goes back into the DWP power grid. Another technology is thermal in which a fire vessel process breaks the garbage down into hydrogen; the heat turns turbines which produce power. The thermal process is distinguished from the backyard incinerators which were banned in the 1960s in that it takes place in a sealed vessel. The gasses and particulate matter that used to go into the atmosphere are contained and converted into electrical power. A third technology uses other physical methods such as shredding and chipping to process waste. The byproducts of the process are used for road construction.
Since this is a new type of facility in LA, the city is developing codes to regulate them. The code addresses such issues as hours of operation, noise levels, emission levels, truck queuing on site, and landscaping. The Environmental Impact Report, in which they evaluate their impact themselves, declares that these facilities will have no negative impact on the environment. The Planning Commission found their EIR inadequate and instructed them to rewrite it.
The city is now receiving proposals from companies worldwide to build these facilities. They hope to be constructed by 2010.
To meet that goal the city has been divided into six geographic areas (wastesheds) which will each be responsible for its own trash. Los Feliz is in the North Central area which goes from Griffith Park south to Olympic Bl. and to East LA. They have identified twelve potential sites; the two in the North Central area are southeast of the junction of I-5 and the 134 and at Washington and Alameda which is already a garbage site. The proposed ordinance encourages BOS to locate these new Alternative Technology facilities on a site that is already used for trash processing. At the present time only one site in Los Angeles will be developed and another site will be used for emerging technologies.
The community in which the Alternative Technology facility is located will received 10% of the fees charged. These funds, estimated at $400,000/year, can be used by the Council District for parks, roads or whatever they choose. This might be considered an incentive for councilmembers to locate a facility within their district.
Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle