Cost Of The Toss
- Adapted from Recycling Study
- by Hallowell et al., Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources
Back to Trash Goes to School
- GRADE LEVELS:
- SUBJECT AREAS:
Cost of disposal.
To have students develop a better understanding of what options
exist for managing solid waste, and the cost and benefits of
students to play roles
1. Imagine yourself as the mayor
of Noteworthy, New York. Yours is a pleasant city of 65,000 people.
Unfortunately, Noteworthy is in the midst of a crisis: your landfill
must be closed because it doesn't comply with present standards
for protecting the environment. What is Noteworthy going to do
with all its garbage?
- As mayor, you're responsible for investigating
new options for managing Noteworthy's solid waste. You begin
by forming a solid waste committee to study the options. Who
do you think should sit on this committee (town treasurer, public
works director, citizen representative, landfill developer, etc.)?
Assign fellow classmates to play these roles and decide on a
name for your committee.
- You will want to involve the whole
class or group and if time permits, carry out the committee meetings
over several days or one day a month for several months. It can
serve as a great research learning experience to come together,
ask questions, form subcommittees to answer the questions (as
follows), and come together with new information on which to
base decisions. If students already have done research on this
topic, they may be able to make the decision in one day.
- 2. Call a meeting of the committee.
Prepare a chart to help members see some options and the impacts
of managing garbage from Noteworthy' homes and businesses. Include
for each disposal alternative factors such as the number of employees
needed, the landfill needs per year, the net cost per year, the
amount of energy used and/or produced, environmental concerns
and the type of citizen participation required. Study your chart
and, as a group, consider the following questions:
- - At first glance, which waste disposal
option seems best? Why? Do you all agree? Is there one best option?
(reduce, recycle, compost, incinerate, or landfill?)
- - What criteria and values are you
using to judge options? Are you pro-business, pro-taxpayer, pro-environment,
pro-convenience? Discuss how your personal point of view might
influence how you judge the importance of each potential impact.
- - Would you feel differently if a facility
were located near your home?
- - How do the options relate to state
or federal laws and regulations?
- - For how many years into the future
are you planning? (Plan for a 10-year term, at least). Why is
this an important consideration (population growth, long-term
economic and environmental impacts, etc.)?
- - How would transportation requirements
affect your choices?
- - Compare the pros and cons of citizen
convenience and environmental impacts for each option. Do you
consider citizen convenience more important then environmental
impacts or vice versa? Why? How does your view affect which option
you think is better?
- - What is the relationship between
net cost and citizen convenience? Is what's convenient the least/most
expensive? Should saving money be a major concern?
- - Does your chart calculate in the
"costs" of each option's long-term environmental impacts
or use of natural resources? What might these "costs"
be? How much should the committee be concerned about these "costs"
in making a decision?
- - If creating jobs is high on your
list of priorities, which option would you choose?
- -You have read somewhere about composting
municipal solid waste. Where can you find out more about composting?
Why might your community consider composting as a valid option
for managing part of the waste stream? Which wastes could be
composted? About how much of the waste stream could be composted?
What will you do with the compost?
- - What are the pros and cons of incineration?
Do you think the benefits (landfill space saved, energy produced,
convenience) outweigh the costs? How much ash will be produced,
and where will it go? How much energy will be generated? What
are the experiences of other communities that already have installed
- - What are the pros and cons of recycling?
What wastes could be recycled? What percentage of the waste stream
could be recycled? What will happen to the rest? Where will the
- 3. Investigate what is required by
your local, state, and federal governments for choosing the waste
management option(s) for Noteworthy (e.g. public hearing, citizen
referendum, DEC approval, environmental impact statement).
- 4. Do you feel you have enough information
to make a wise decision for your town? If not, where can you
find this information?
- 5. Now that your committee has investigated
and discussed the options for Noteworthy's solid waste management
plan, make a decision about which option(s) the town should enact.
- 6. List suggestions for what you can
do to ensure the success of Noteworthy's new waste management
plan (e.g., community education, providing containers for recycling).