Urgent need for sustainable waste management

For a large part of the past year, the possibility of reopening the White Street landfill has caused a stir in local news. Since the Greensboro city council voted against the reopening, necessity for a new form of waste disposal has become imminent. Now, with a change in council members and dynamic, it is prime time for more environmentally responsible waste management.

“I believe there will be some options available that will involve regional disposal facilities that are emerging now that should have been looked at before and for one reason or another were not,” said Mayor Robbie Perkins to the Guilfordian in November.

These solutions included a disposal facility in Randolph County, Rockingham County, and a regional disposal facility for the Triad. However, these solutions are not inherently the most environmentally responsible solutions.

Greensboro’s council has seemed committed to environmentally friendly actions in the past. According to the official website of the city of Greensboro, the council accepted the Community Sustainability Council’s Action plan in January 2011.

“[The CSC’s areas of interest lie in increasing recycling rates and reducing waste generation (and) promoting personal lifestyle choices that are energy efficient and resource conserving,” according to the Greensboro city website.

The question is whether the council members will continue to uphold sustainable solutions.

I believe they will.

In the most recent election of city council members, the White Street landfill was an important issue for voters and the majority of those elected were opposed to the reopening, instead focusing on a change in waste management.

Though the council did not immediately implement changes in waste disposal, a new method was said to be in the works.

“We’ve extended the contract (with Republic Waste) for another six months through June 30 and now we’re going to a work on a solution that will save us some money and that doesn’t entail reopening White Street,” said Perkins to the Guilfordian in November.

There were many proposals of regional solutions by newly elected council members, but those same people also proposed innovative, though long-term, solutions that focused on sustainability.

Mayor Pro Tem and At-Large council member Yvonne Johnson told the Guilfordian in October that she preferred “a regional solution until we have proven technology for converting waste to energy.”

An immediate solution is certainly necessary to responsibly manage the waste of Greensboro citizens, but the possibility that a short-term solution will overshadow the need for a more sustainable long-term solution is frightening.

The citizens and government of Greensboro need to focus on sustainability for individual citizens and the whole of the city. By promoting recycling and looking for more environmentally friendly waste management solutions, the city council can keep Greensboro clean and green.

“For my part, I would hope that we can pay serious attention to the possibility of taking recycling programs to the next level as part of the long-term plan,” said Associate Professor of Political Science Kyle Dell. “Enhancing recycling would realize benefits across all three bottom lines.”

The best solution for Greensboro is still unknown, but there is certainly evidence of many ideas that would move the city in the right direction. Now it is left up to the citizens of Greensboro to demand sustainability and for the city council to implement sustainable practices.