Baltimore Youth Organizer Carlos Sanchez Points Out Pitfalls of City Council Plan

Carlos Sanchez, a Baltimore high-school student and youth organizer for Free Your Voice and Fair Development Land Trust, responded to the announcement of a new Zero Waste Commission for the City with a thought-provoking op/ed in Baltimore Brew. Titled, “A New Commission, With No Goal of Scrapping the Incinerator, Won’t Get Baltimore to Zero Waste,” the article was published on November 22. The subtitle of the op/ed noted that “a plan already developed by the community — with ambitious goals and revenue sources — will do more to end health-harming air pollution than the entity the City Council is proposing.”
Key excerpts from the op/ed are included below:
At first, I was excited to see that the City Council was taking action to fix our broken municipal waste system. But as I read the text of the bill to create a new Zero Waste Commission for Baltimore, I was shocked to see nothing about what’s really important – namely, phasing out trash incineration.

“Instead, Bill 21-0075 only prioritizes ending the practice of sending waste sent to landfills by 2035. In its first year, the commission is to produce a plan for meeting that goal.”

“Nevertheless, we remain optimistic and committed.”

“For the past several years, some of my proudest moments have come from working alongside fellow youth and community members to change this waste system, so that we are the last generation to grow up with it.”

Carlos noted that advocates like himself have already been working on a Zero Waste Plan.

“Together, we’ve already created the city’s first Zero Waste Plan, and have been working ever since to see that it is implemented. Our systematic approach calls for the city to:

  • Establish a “Just Transition for Zero Waste Fund” to develop new community-owned compost, recycling, deconstruction and reuse infrastructure
  • End subsidies for the incinerators and landfills we are transitioning away from
  • Build and strengthen local end markets for compost and recycled commodities
  • Establish protections for sanitation workers as we transition from outdated technologies to current approaches
  • Create relief funds for the communities that have hosted toxic waste infrastructure for decades”
See the Fair Development Zero Waste Plan at https://ilsr.org/report-baltimore-zero-waste/
Read the full op/ed Sanchez wrote in the Baltimore Brew, 22 November 2021
Photo credit: by ActionVance on Unsplash
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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.