Friday, December 5, 2008


The Three Six Rs

Ever heard of CAPCOG?

Neither had I, but I’m glad they exist—the Capitol Area Council of Governments handles issues that cross local county lines, from maintaining mapping systems for 9-1-1 to providing direct access to services for the elderly and beyond. From Homeland Security for a ten-county area to Waste Reduction Planning, all coordinated and cooperating.

Invisibly, to great degree.

Particularly in Texas, county of residence can be more important than city (and cities often span several counties). And there are areas of general concern for, say, the residents of Central Texas that don’t much affect those in the panhandle, or vice versa; I find it reassuring to learn that the obvious need for some mid-level association is being addressed by so-appropriately-named COGs.

But mostly, I’m happy to learn about my local COG’s efforts regarding waste reduction. I had been distressed by how little has been done to remove organics from the waste stream, and dissatisfied with airy promises of “Zero Waste”* achievements at some far-future date. CAPCOG has specific information, plans and past agendas, all accessible online should you know where to look.

And now, I do. This site is perhaps most useful for its new and frequently updated area map of recycling facilities—frugal eco-conscious Austinites should especially appreciate the dollar signs showing locations where recyclable materials may be sold!—but that’s certainly not all it has to offer.

Among other interesting materials on the website is a simple, not-too-new PowerPoint document. You’ve heard of The Three Rs—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—but at least as far back as 2005, CAPCOG was discussing six:

*Reduce (source reduction)
*Repair (fix)
*Reuse (durable vs. disposable, as for example cameras and napkins)
*Recycle (everything else)

That final R may be beyond my reach. But isn’t it nice to know it’s on somebody’s radar?

There are several other interesting slides in that presentation, including the twelve master categories of material found in landfills and their percentages. And from their example plan, courtesy of the ever-forward Palo Alto, CA, comes my new rallying cry, conveniently for my post-title also composed largely of initial Rs:

Regional Resource Recovery Parks. Municipality-provided locations for the creation or expansion of privately or publicly run reuse, recycling, and composting businesses.

My neighborhood really, really, rrreally needs a bokashi farm…


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