A proposal that is sure to be hotly debated in Palo Alto is the anaerobic composting facility near the Baylands.
On the plus side, the plant would handle organic waste such as yard waste, sewage sludge and food scraps, turning them into compost suitable as a soil amendment. Electricity would also be generated. Proponents point to cost savings in waste disposal, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since waste would not have to be transported elsewhere.
Opponents object to the use of 8 acres of what was to have been parkland.
This proposal involves issues dear to the heart of the Transition Movement: recycling, green house gas emissions, energy self-reliance and composting.
One positive role for Transition would be to encourage informed and respectful debate. Other communities are watching us, so we have an opportunity to set a good example
Explaining the technical aspects of the process is also important. For example, how many people know what anaerobic composting is? What are the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions of the proposal? Why might energy self-reliance be important in the coming years?
- “Put compost proposal to a citywide vote” (PA Weekly Editorial)
- ANTI op-ed by Emily Renzel
- PRO op-ed by Peter Drekmeier
- Palo Alto Green Energy and Compost Initiative (website for pro-composter group)
- Anaerobic Digester Fact Sheet (PDF from Transition member David Coale who supports the proposal).
- Palo Alto Compost and Parks: Harmonizing Conflicting Environmental Interests (PDF of article by proponent Bob Wenzlau giving background information on the project. It originally appeared in Bay Area Green and appears here by permission of the author). RECOMMENDED for its detail and historical perspective.
- Palo Alto Compost Task Force – Final Report
UPDATE (Sept 27, 2010). Post Carbon Institute just posted a chapter on Waste from their Post Carbon Reader. The complete PDF and a short video are available online:
Climate Change, Peak Oil, and the End of Waste
by Bill Sheehan
UPDATE (Oct 5). Volunteers are now gathering signatures to put the proposal on the ballot.
Related news article from the BBC: Oxfordshire town sees human waste used to heat homes