The federal government is considering nationwide curbs on toxic emissions from municipal garbage incinerators, but environmentalists say the proposed rules still rely too heavily on burning garbage instead of recycling it.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed federal standards for hundreds of municipal garbage incinerators Thursday. As part of the pollution control effort, at least one-fourth of the reusable garbage will have to be recycled, the EPA said.Although the agency said the tighter standards would curtail toxic incinerator emissions by 90 percent within five years, the proposal was attacked immediately by environmentalists who said the agency should require greater recycling.
"It's a positive first step," said Allen Hershkowitz, a solid waste expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "But the 25 percent (recycling) proposal is far too modest. More than 93 percent of the materials in the average American city's waste steam are recyclable."
A lawsuit by the NRDC and the state of New York had forced the EPA to propose the new regulations, which are expected to become final in about a year.
The proposal is the first federal effort to impose a nationwide standard on toxic chemical releases from garbage incineration plants.