Blue Ridge Times-News, August 7, 2013
Having won a year-long moratorium on biomass facilities in Transylvania County, a Pisgah Forest-based nonprofit is now looking for more sustainable ways local governments and businesses can turn “waste into wealth.”
People for Clean Mountains, which galvanized citizens against a proposed garbage-fueled electric plant in Penrose, is hosting a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brevard College to explore ways Transylvania and other counties can stimulate economic development while managing solid waste through cleaner, greener means.
“We’re not just a one-trick pony,” said PCM volunteer Kevin Glenn. “It’s not just about stopping the (biomass) plant. We are doing our best to come up with positive, clean, sustainable economic development alternatives.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the group is hosting recycling and economic development expert Neil Seldman of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Seldman helps communities attract recycling enterprises and implement waste-reduction programs that create jobs and lower governmental costs, Glenn said.
“He’s going to be talking about and recommending what we could do to reduce waste, to reuse what we have and divert it from the waste stream, be it composting or better recycling,” Glenn said.
Seldman will describe strategies that lower government operation costs; incentives to encourage households and businesses to recycle; and the types of reuse, composting and recycling companies that could be located in Transylvania or neighboring counties.
Home deconstruction is one potential method of turning waste into wealth, Glenn said. Instead of tearing down older buildings and burying debris in landfills, “we can take apart a house and re-sell the good stuff. That has supported many, many jobs,” he said.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance worked with community groups in Chicago to shut down an old incinerator and prevent the construction of a new one, while introducing a recycling program that now employs 400 workers. Glenn said the Southeast region is well-positioned to follow their lead and turn trash into treasure.