|The Environmental Commissioners and Directors from the New England States challenged the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA) and the air and water interstates to identify regional activities to address climate change as a priority in 2007. As a result of this challenge, the NEWMOA Board of Directors, which includes the state environmental agency directors of pollution prevention, hazardous and solid waste management, and waste site cleanup programs, developed a NEWMOA Climate-Waste Action Plan. The Plan presents a strategy for mitigating and adapting to climate change through improving waste prevention and recycling initiatives, increasing renewable energy on contaminated sites, implementing "greener" site remediation, and improving management and recycling of disaster debris. It is the culmination of a year and half long discussion among the NEWMOA member state Program Directors about their climate actions and waste management efforts, and how these efforts could be made more effective/leveraged through regional collaboration.
All of the NEWMOA-member state environmental agencies implement programs to prevent and properly manage pollution and waste. Redoubling the efforts of these programs are key elements of the NEWMOA Draft Climate-Waste Action Plan. The experiences of the NEWMOA-member programs have shown that there are significant opportunities for increasing waste prevention and recycling for municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, non-hazardous and hazardous industrial waste, commercial waste, and other wastes.
A number of northeastern states have adopted climate action goals. For many of the states, these generally reference the regional goals established by the New England Governors' Conference (NEGC), and provide a basis for states to develop plans for achieving their own and the regional goals. These long-term goals mirror those of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which both the United States and Canada are signatories. NEWMOA's overall Draft Climate-Waste Action Plan goals are to:
-Assist the Northeast states in achieving their GHG reduction goals by supporting and helping states implement programs that mitigate the climate, energy, and overall environmental impacts of products and materials use, waste generation, waste management, and site remediation; and
-Promote effective prevention and management strategies to assist states in adapting to the impacts of a warmer climate in the near term.
The Action Plan identifies the following guiding principles for regional climate-waste action:
-Effectively minimizing the contribution of waste management to climate change will require coordination and collaboration in the efforts of the Northeast states.
-A life cycle view should be taken when evaluating the climate impacts of any material or waste, including the impacts of materials throughout the supply chain.
-Actions to foster pollution prevention, reuse, recycling, waste management, and waste site cleanup should be implemented to minimize energy consumption and GHG emissions.
-Actions should focus on the materials and waste streams with the greatest overall climate impact.
-Addressing climate change can have unintended consequences, and these should be addressed proactively (e.g., preventing the generation of wastes containing toxic chemicals from new energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies). Efforts to reduce waste and mitigate climate change should not result in significant contamination of land, air, and water or negative public health impacts.
-Renewable energy and energy efficiency are critical to successful climate change mitigation because they reduce fossil fuel emissions. Closed landfills, Brownfields, and other contaminated sites can provide sites for developing renewable energy and for supporting waste reuse and recycling activities.
-Waste programs should anticipate the impacts of a warmer climate on the types and amounts of waste generated and develop strategies and initiatives to adapt to these changes.
Through the Draft Action Plan, the NEWMOA-member state programs commit to sharing information, conducting research, discussing and developing joint policy actions, coordinating implementation of programs, and conducting needed training and capacity building. The following are eight waste-related strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change that NEWMOA should undertake in conjunction with member states and appropriate partners:
-Minimize life cycle impacts of waste
-Increase waste reuse and recycling
-Reduce methane gas emissions from landfills
-Promote greater awareness of what the public can do to reduce waste and address climate change
-Improve overall data gathering and waste planning support
-Increase the use of former solid waste landfills and other contaminated sites for renewable energy and waste reuse and recycling development
-Promote green remediation practices at waste site cleanups
-Improve planning for management of disaster debris
The Plan outlines actions under each of these strategy areas for follow-up and further development. The Draft Climate-Waste Action Plan is currently under review by the NEWMOA-member state environmental commissioners. The Plan should be finalized in the summer of 2009.