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Municipal Solid Waste Management

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Municipal Solid Waste Management: Texas

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Municipal Solid Waste Management: Texas
Long-term Costs & Benefit of Course of Action
Municipal Solid Waste has a definition all its own. This means more than just trash; but rather what makes up all the bits and pieces of trash and garbage. Society, as a whole, tends to throw away almost anything that is no longer of value to them. However, the plastic, cardboard, paper, books, clothing, metals, foil products, and some glass items can be recycled or separated from the normal trash can. In the same way, states, such as Texas must develop much-needed plans to save their natural environments, while eliminated consequences to human health due to improper garbage disposal. According to (Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, 2000), [“The Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act (Chapter 361, Texas Health & Safety Code) requires the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to prepare a state solid waste management strategic plan every four years. The Act directs that the plan consider all of the solid waste under the TNRCC’s jurisdiction, including hazardous wastes and nonhazardous solid waste from industrial and municipal sources. The State does not directly provide solid waste management services, although some financial assistance programs are available at the state level. The provision of solid waste management services in Texas is primarily the activity of private companies and local governments.” (p. 14)] Nevertheless when it comes to management efforts of solid waste, there are long-term costs no matter what city in Texas is being evaluated. For instance, the city of Killeen, Texas provides annual budgets and plans to manage their city’s waste items. Killeen’s budget for solid waste was broken down into residential, commercial, recycling, transfer station, moving and other costs involved in solid waste disposal. The expenses have gone from 13,000,000 to 16,000,000 within a five-year period (City of Killeen, 2014). With these shocking figures course of actions must be revised. Maybe the figures of each category evaluated would help the flow of the budget if they were tweaked a little depending on the outcome per year, or do taxpayers have to dish out more money to help the city council’s budget? The people that would benefit are those within that city and their contact surroundings. Energy prices would decrease, less pollution would benefit the natural environment all around Texas and a better tomorrow for all. Hence, if it were not for city or state planning & budgeting, there would be no funds or practice to implement to better the state of Texas.
Impacts & Benefits
As the population increases and economic evolution grows, waste generation expands with it. Although, in Texas they have found a way to reduce the environmental impact of waste; by using the US Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) “4 R’s”. The “4 R’s” are reduce, reuse, recycle, and Rebuy. Texas has also gone a step above the EPA’s definition of municipal solid waste. Texas embodied more in their definition. With Texas construction and demolition, (C&D) debris and municipal sludge are included; whereas they are not in the EPA’s. By adding more to their definition, it allows the ability to focus on the source of the waste rather than the characteristics of the waste. This is done by separating waste into two categories; retailers, distributers, general public, and repair service are labeled as municipal generators, and manufactures are labeled as industrial municipal waste. Each of these is then deciphered as hazardous or non-hazardous waste ("Texas Commission on Environmental Quality", 2008).
In addition, to the improvements to the EPA’s definition of municipal solid waste Texas fully adopts and uses the EPA’s ‘4 R’s”. Across the entire state a large variety of waste is recycled every day; including glass, paper products, aluminum scrap and cans, various scrap metals, plastic, wood, and many other items. Doing this involves the public, businesses, the manufacturing industry, etc. making the community an active part of the process also heightens awareness of environmental issues related to MSW disposal and other environmental issues. This may change the mentality citizens and the entire community to choose reusable item over disposable ones ("Texas Commission on Environmental Quality", 2008).
The end results of adding to the EPA’s definition of MSW disposal, the “4 R’s”, and involvement of the community there is a reduction in waste disposal and a gain in environmental benefits. When all of these tactics are used together, a long-term solution to substantial landfill space is addressed, without the use of larger or more landfills. With using this all-encompassing waste management plan. New programs are put in use yearly, which help to expand the impact that reduction, reusing, and recycling have on the benefits of preserving the disposal capacity and the environment ("Texas Commission on Environmental Quality", 2008).
Climate Change & Ecosystem Diversity
Being the second largest state, Texas is one of the most diverse regions within the United States. According to the “EPA” (2012) “The state contains barrier islands and coastal lowlands, large river floodplain forests, rolling plains and plateaus, forested hills, deserts, and a variety of aquatic habitats.” Ecosystem variation is incredibly important to the health and sustainability of not only the United States but the entire planet. Protecting the wide variety of ecoregions within Texas is an incredible task. One of the growing concerns within the state is climate change. Usually thought of as an issue that will impact the future, climate change has already presented itself within the state of Texas. The state has been experiencing drought conditions for quite some time already and according to Loftis “…rainfall patterns are changing in the region, with precipitation in recent decades increasingly packed into short, heavy downpours — a shift consistent with climate change, the report said.” There are many factors leading to these shifts in local climate. Municipal solid wastes can be part of the climate change problem and the management of these wastes is continuing to be more important. As the population of Texas increases so does the amount of solid wastes generated as well as a demand for more products that will eventually become wastes. Throughout the process of materials being gathered and harvested, used and then disposed of greenhouse gas emissions increase which directly impacts climate change. Many local governments and private companies have initiated waste prevention programs and recycling efforts. Reducing waste levels by lowering consumption coupled with recycling wastes instead of incinerating those materials decreases the impact of solid wastes on climate change. The city of Denton, Texas provides both residential and commercial recycling service that includes curbside pickup for solid wastes as well as household hazardous waste. In addition to these recycling efforts the city also operates a “ReUse” store which provides residents the opportunity to select up to 4 commonly used household items a day at no charge. These local efforts throughout the state help reduce the amount of consumption and increases recycling practices, which in turn reduce the impact of solid waste on climate.
Cost-benefit Analysis & “No-Action” Alternative
Cost-benefit analysis is a quantitative evaluation of the costs, which would be incurred versus the overall benefits to society of a proposed action (United States Department of Interior “U.S. DOI”, 2014). A simple cost-benefit analysis for municipal solid waste in Texas would be to evaluate the costs of a free trash disposal day for the public once a month to regular disposal fees at landfills in Texas. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (2012), “Texas solid waste disposal fee as defined in Title 5 (Sanitation and Environmental Quality) Section 361.013(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code: The commission shall charge a fee on all solid waste that is disposed of within this state.” Regular disposal in Texas during the fiscal year of 2012 was $1.25 per ton if the solid waste was measure by weight and the landfills that measured by volume charged a fee of 40 cents per cubic yard for compacted solid waste; un-compacted solid waste was 25 cents per cubic yard (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 2012). The benefits to society of the proposed action of offering a free trash disposal day once a month is the benefit of offering the public a day to dispose of old furniture, appliances, old tires, used motor oil, lumber scrapes, tree limps, or used oil filters at no cost. U.S. DOI (2014), “No action alternative is the projected baseline condition, or future without, the expected future condition if no action is taken is not necessarily the same as the present condition.” National Environmental Policy Act “NEPA” (2014) states, “There are two different explanations of "no action" that must be taken into consideration, which all depends on the nature of the proposal that need to be evaluated.” The first case of a “no action” alternative could involve an action that might include updating a land management plan that has ongoing programs that began under any current existing legislation and regulations (NEPA, 2014). Another action involving "no action “alternatives is seen in cases waiting on federal decisions for proposals for projects (NEPA, 2014). NEPA (2014) states, “No action alternatives in many cases means the proposed activity would not take place, and the resulting environmental effects from taking no action would be compared with the effects of permitting the proposed activity or an alternative activity to go forward.”

References
City of Killeen. (2014). City Budget Documents: 2013-2014 Annual Budget and Plan of Municipal Services. Retrieved from: http://www.killeentexas.gov/index.php?section=108
EPA. (2012). Western Ecology Division. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions/tx_eco.htm
Loftis, R. L. (2014, May 6). Worse global warming effects ahead for Texas, federal report says. Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20140506-worse-global-warming-effects-ahead-for-texas-federal-report-says.ece
National Environmental Policy Act (2014). NEPA Regulations (Data file). Retreieved from http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/40/40p3.htm
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (2008). Retrieved from http://file:///Users/User1/Downloads/Waste_Planing_Report_2008_Data.pdf
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (2012). Municipal Solid Waste in Texas: A Year in Review. (PDF document). Retrieved from https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/comm_exec/pubs/as/187_13.pdf
Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. (2000). Solid Waste Management in Texas Strategic Plan 2001-2005. Retrieved from: http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/publications
United States Department of Interior (2014). Glossary (Data file). Retrieved from http://www.usbr.gov/projects/glossary.jsp#N

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