To the editors:
In Harold Henderson's article "What a Waste" (September 28, 1990) he focused on the source reduction and recycling components of House Bill 4013, downplaying the implications of the siting provisions of the bill.
While HB 4013 does contain some positive source reduction and recycling provisions, the thrust of the bill is to expedite the siting process for regional waste management facilities. If passed, this bill would change the local approval process for the siting of municipal waste facilities such as landfills, incinerators and transfer stations. HB 4013 would make local siting review OPTIONAL and take the teeth out of any community's ability to stop the state from siting a new landfill or incinerator. Citizens should have a strong voice in the type of waste management that is proposed for their area and this bill could significantly weaken that voice.
Under SB 172, the current Illinois law governing waste facility siting, potential waste facilities must be reviewed and decided upon by local elected officials, giving voters the opportunity to control what types of facilities come into their communities. The League believes that SB 172 is working. Since its passage in 1981, 18 new sites were approved through the local siting process, 16 were denied. Of those 18 sites, only 7 received EPA permits, and five were constructed (3 municipal solid waste facilities and 2 industrial waste facilities).
HB 4013 is designed to facilitate the siting of more landfills and incinerators in Illinois. In effect this will be a step backwards as more landfills and incinerators will reduce the incentive to develop strong waste reduction and recycling programs.
The solution to our solid waste problem is aggressive waste prevention measures and recycling. We should reduce as much waste as possible, then look to the safest available technology to handle the remaining waste. It has been estimated that we could recycle and compost at least 60% of the waste we produce. By significantly reducing our waste we will be able to extend the life of the landfills and incinerators already in operation. Building new landfills and incinerators should be a last resort.
Environmental Quality Director
League of Women Voters of Illinois