ILSR’s Waste to Wealth E-Bits — Vol. 2, No. 2

ILSR’s Waste to Wealth E-Bits — Vol. 2, No. 2

Date: 3 Jan 2002 | posted in: waste - deconstruction, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail


The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a 26-year-old nonprofit organization that promotes economic development that minimizes environmental damage while maximizing benefits to the local community.  Our Waste to Wealth Program offers research, policy development, technical assistance, and public education and outreach on waste reduction and recycling-related economic development.

E-Bits highlights ILSR’s Waste to Wealth Program work, from creating jobs and recycling-oriented enterprises, to recycling policies that close the loop locally, to model waste reduction initiatives.  In this issue we have expanded E-bits to include work performed by the Healthy Building Network, a new project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  Welcome to our fourth edition of E-Bits!


This past September, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance  kicked-off its national deconstruction training program at the 4th Used Building Materials Association (UBMA) Conference in Portland, Oregon.   The training program will provide worker and entrepreneur training throughout the country to community development organizations and small businesses.   The program will be headed by Jim Primdahl, a nationally recognized deconstruction trainer with extensive business development experience.  Primdahl helped establish DeConstruction Services, the highly successful deconstruction arm of the ReBuilding Center in Portland, Oregon.

ILSR is launching the program with assistance to the Umpqua Community Development Corporation in Roseburg, Oregon; the Metropolitan Development Council in Tacoma, Washington; the Pioneer Valley Project in Springfield, Massachusetts; the New Community Corporation in Newark, NJ, and Just U Wait N’ See, CDC in Washington, D.C. (See Below).

For more information on ILSR’s National Deconstruction Training Program refer to ILSR’s webpage:


When:   Monday, March 11, 2002

Where: State Capitol Building, Hartford, Connecticut

Hosted by: The Honorable Jessie G. Stratton, Chair of the Environment Committee, Connecticut House of Representatives

Sponsored by: Institute for Local Self-Reliance & Connecticut Institute for Municipal Studies

Co-sponsored by: Action for Bridgeport Community Development Corporation (Bridgeport, CT); Corporation for Enterprise Development (Washington, DC); GrassRoots Recycling Network (Athens, GA); Healthy Building Network (Washington, DC); National Black Environmental Justice Network (Detroit, OH); National Congress for Community Economic Development (Washington, DC); Reuse Development Organization (Indianapolis, IN); Used Building Materials Association (Halifax, Nova Scotia); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, D.C.)

This conference is a one-day event, which will focus on providing initial technical assistance to agencies, organizations, and individuals interested in starting or assisting in the start-up of a deconstruction enterprise in their community as a means for increasing employment opportunities.  Deconstruction or the manual disassembly of buildings stimulates community-based economic development through business and job creation while diverting waste from landfills and incinerators.  Resources for deconstruction start-ups are plentiful, but vary from community to community.  Identifying opportunities and developing potential partnerships are key elements in launching cost effective and efficient programs.  Join us in Hartford and take a big bite out of your learning curve!  The panel sessions will examine numerous organizational formats for start-up deconstruction ventures that have proven successful in communities all across the country.  Panels will include perspectives and information presented by deconstruction managers, field workers, community representatives, material retailers, and many others with first hand experience in deconstruction ventures.


Just U Wait’ N See, Inc., CDC (JUWNS) and The NOAH Group, LLC recently won a contract with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) to deconstruct the Stanton Dwellings public housing complex in southeast DC, the single largest deconstruction project in the U.S. encompassing 348 units. The project is funded by DCHA’s HOPE VI grants, which are competitively given out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) will provide deconstruction training during the project.  ILSR’s program will provide intense programatic training in all aspects of deconstruction to 48 D.C. men and women. Sixteen men and two women have already begun classroom training, as well as on-site, hands-on deconstruction work. The project is expected to take eight months to complete.

The Institute has contracted expert deconstruction trainers from around the country to come to DC and provide training. Kurt Buss, Director of Deconstruction at ReSource2000 in Boulder, Colorado; Matt McKinney and Andrew Smith, Director of Deconstruction, and Field Supervisor, respectively, at ReCycle North in Burlington, Vermont, are the first three of six national trainers that will participate on this project.

To witness community development in action as workers literally turn waste into wealth, visit our Waste to Wealth Web page at for pictures and project updates.


Kelly Lease of ILSR and Richard Anthony, a San Diego-based consultant, recently completed a report for Greenpeace China that outlines an ambitious waste management plan for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Greenpeace hopes to use the findings of this report to convince the government of Hong Kong to abandon its HK$10 billion plan to develop waste-to-energy incinerators.

In the report, ILSR outlines programs and policies that encourage source reduction, recycling, and composting.  ILSR estimates that implementation of these programs and policies would be $8 billion cheaper than simply landfilling waste and $11 billion cheaper than incineration. Furthermore, under its proposal, Hong Kong could reduce its municipal solid waste disposal needs to approximately 7,000 tonnes per year (10,000 tonnes less than 2000), and potentially extending the region’s remaining landfill capacity to twenty years. By implementing ILSR’s plan, Hong Kong would also reduce air and water pollution, reduce its need for raw material extraction, and increase employment.

ILSR hopes to travel to Hong Kong in early 2002 in order assist Greenpeace campaign staff present the plan to the government. Contact ILSR to find out more information on this project and ILSR’s report.


In a recent report written for the Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources, Programs and Planning Division, ILSR assessed the feasibility of start-up of electronic reuse and building-material reuse operations within the County. In the report ILSR reviewed current resources, such as the availability of obsolete electronics and used-building material, interested community groups, regionally- and county-based recovery operations interested in joint ventures, available sites, financing, and training and other business development resources. According to ILSR’s findings Prince George’s County has the opportunity to reduce the amount of construction and demolition debris going to its landfills by 80 percent; virtually eliminate the disposal of obsolete electronics and electronic debris; create up to eight new recovery-based business operations; provide 150 new job opportunities and train hundreds of residents for high-wage jobs.

To find out how ILSR can help you determine how reuse or recycling can help your jurisdiction stimulate economic development and reduce waste contact


In November the Healthy Building Network released a new report on the dangers of pressure treated wood containing arsenic compounds, and began offering arsenic testing kits to the public as a means of assessing arsenic levels on playground equipment, decks, and other surfaces. Working together with the Environmental Working Group and grassroots activists across the country, HBN released a new report called The Poisonwood Rivals. The report documents arsenic levels on pressure treated wood sold at Home Depots and Lowes home improvement stores based upon samples taken by grassroots activists in more than a dozen cities across the country. The samples were then tested at an independent lab, and revealed that store employees and consumers are exposed to dangerously high levels of arsenic during routine handling of pressure treated wood products.

To assist concerned parents and consumers in determining whether pressure treated wood structures such as playground equipment, picnic tables and decks are leaching dangerous levels of arsenic, HBN now offers low-cost home test kits.

Copies of the report, city-by-city test results, and arsenic testing kits can be obtained from the HBN website: For more information contact


The Healthy Building Network continues to lead the effort of environmental health activists to ensure that the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBCs) green building code known as (LEED) Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design excludes polyvinylchlorid plastic (known as PVC or Vinyl) as an acceptable green building material.  Under pressure from PVC plastic industry, the Council has undertaken an extraordinary review of proposals from its members that would have granted green building credits for PVC elimination in certified green buildings.

HBN coordinator Bill Walsh served as an advisor to a new documentary on the problems associated with PVC plastic that will air on HBO in May. Also, BLUE VINYL: a Toxic Comedy debuted in sold out theaters at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

For more information about the Blue Vinyl visit  For more information on the US Green Building Council visit their website at


In a nationally coordinated action, groups across the U.S. have joined together to release the 3rd Annual Computer Report Card and to launch the Computer TakeBack Campaign. The Computer Report Card provides consumers, local governments, and activists with a tool to measure electronics equipment and the environmental performance of companies that produce computers.  The Computer Report Card reveals that US companies are continuing to lag further behind their overseas competitors in clean production, health-related issues and producing environmentally superior products.

For more information on the Computer Report Card and the Take-Back Campaign visit or

ILSR is a founding member of the Electronics Take Back! Campaign, whose purpose is to develop a campaign to promote producer responsibility principles and programs in the electronics industry.  ILSR’s work within the network is part of its overall EPR program. See our Web page: or contact Neil Seldman at for more on this new network and EPR.