What should we do with all of the garbage we generate? The issue of municipal solid waste disposal looms over many communities and has acquired national prominence in recent years due to decreasing landfill capacity and widely publicized local problems. Perhaps the issue is felt most strongly within communities that are facing the prospects of having their landfill closed or meeting state-mandated goals for recycling and source reduction. Other communities face challenges to proposed waste-to-energy facilities. Planning for municipal waste disposal is driven by pressing needs for which there are no simple solutions. No disposal alternative is free from technological, economic, environmental, health, regulatory, or social problems; and choosing among the options is difficult indeed.
This book was inspired by these difficulties. It also was inspired by the everchanging context of solid waste management--new and amended local, state, and federal regulations; escalating costs; technological developments; and evolving public and political attention and opinions. The book started with the premises that decisions about solid waste management are made within this changing context and that social and economic influences on decision making frequently are overlooked. Therefore, our goal is to understand how social and economic factors affect communities' decisions about municipal solid waste disposal by examining in detail one option, waste-to-energy.
The authors wish to thank the many individuals who, in one way or another, contributed to this book. Scott Rickard, an economics graduate student at the University of Tennessee, contributed excellent data and graphics support. Cynthia Coomer developed the maps for the chapter describing case studies. Cynthia Moody, Kathy Ballew, Judy Burns, and Glenda Hamlin provided industrious and timely secretarial support and helped in meeting an ambitious delivery schedule.