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International Symposium on Waste Management Information

Summary

Experts discuss opportunities to reduce environmental impact, increase use of alternative energy source and reclaim resources

Story

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert welcomed an international panel of solid waste and sustainability experts representing cutting-edge technology at a Waste-to-Energy Symposium on April 16, 2010. The panel discussed developments in renewable energy technology and sustainable solid waste management systems that are revolutionizing the way we think about garbage. The event included a question-and-answer session to experts from Germany and across the United States about new technology, best practices, and the future of energy and solid waste planning in the Northwest.

"Solid waste, and what to do with it, brings together the increasingly urgent topics of renewable energy, climate change and environmental responsibility," Councilmember Lambert said. "We can learn a lot from the scientific advances utilized in the European Union, which prioritizes complementary waste management strategies that effectively handle waste with the least adverse impact on health and the environment. It complements our recycling efforts and completes the cycle for the products not recycled in other ways."

Participants in the symposium learned that an effective and sustainable solid waste management system includes a combination of strategies, including reducing waste with product stewardship, recycling and reusing, energy and materials recovery, and landfilling only a minimal amount.

Recent technological advances are making it possible to recover energy, heat, metals and building materials contained in the solid waste stream through thermal treatment. German government officials joined the forum in person and by phone to brief the audience on the progress in their country to reduce the impact of waste and produce electricity and heat, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They explained that European plants have data available on the internet 24/7, and they fully comply with U.S. standards for air quality. Landfills capture at best 50 percent of the methane they produce, while modern waste-to-energy plants prevent production of methane and capture the smallest airborne particulates as well. American experts also discussed the science and technology involved and national policies and lifecycle sustainability issues.

The program was moderated by Ross MacFarlane of Climate Solutions, and the panelists included:

  • Dr. Helmut Schnurer , head of Waste Management, Federal Ministry of the Environment, Germany 1985-2006. View presentation (pdf)
  • Juergen Giegrich , Managing Director, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Germany. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Dr. Michael Weltzin , German Green Party. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Harvey W. Gershman, President, Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Scott DuBoff, Garvey Schubert Barer. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Dr. Rita Schenck, Executive Director, Institute for Environmental Research & Education, American Center for Life Cycle Assessment. View presentation (pdf) 

Rebroadcast of the forum will be programmed for viewing on King County TV--Comcast and Broadstripe Cable on channel 22. You can also watch video of the forum online. [Requires free version of Windows Media Player]



Watch video of the forum online.

[Requires free version of Windows Media Player]
Video of April 16, 2010 Waste Symposium

View Panelist Presentations

  • Dr. Helmut Schnurer, head of Waste Management, Federal Ministry of the Environment, Germany 1985-2006. View presentation (pdf)
  • Juergen Giegrich, Managing Director, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Germany. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Dr. Michael Weltzin, German Green Party. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Harvey W. Gershman, President, Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Scott DuBoff, Garvey Schubert Barer. View presentation (pdf) 
  • Dr. Rita Schenck, Executive Director, Institute for Environmental Research & Education, American Center for Life Cycle Assessment. View presentation (pdf) 
Contact the Council
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206-477-1000
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206-296-1024
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206-296-0198