By editorial board • 

Editorial: Dear garbage goliath: Please give us a break

CEO James C. Fish Jr.

Waste Management Inc.

First City Tower, Houston

 

Dear Mr. Fish:

Your company has come a long way since Dutch immigrant Harm Huizenga began hauling garbage in Chicago in 1893, charging $1.25 per wagon load. At last count, it owned and operated 293 landfills, 346 transfer stations, 146 recycling plants and 26,000 garbage trucks, making it the largest waste disposal outfit in North America.

So we can forgive you for not being aware of the 87-acre Riverbend Landfill you own in Oregon’s scenic wine country, or the consistently losing 13-year campaign you’ve been fighting to expand it a mere 29 acres, affording you a mere 10 more years.

Your other Oregon landfill occupies 12,000 acres, 700 of which are in active use. Even with a torrent of waste pouring into it from Portland and Seattle, it has a projected remaining lifetime of 143 years. And that’s just on its existing footprint, which can readily be expanded into adjacent desert.

So we can understand why our postage stamp of a landfill, named for an abutting bend in the South Yamhill River, has escaped your attention. Even its hometown of McMinnville has begun shipping waste elsewhere, meaning it’s not getting much use anyway.

A stock analyst recently issued a Waste Management buy recommendation based on your successful drive to “instill price and cost discipline to achieve better margins,” enabling you to pay out $802 million in dividends and buy back more than $1 billion of stock last year. The firm credited you with “remarkable gross margin expansion,” thanks largely to wildly successful “cost-reduction initiatives.”

We’re the first to admit our little landfill, which accepted its first truckload of trash in 1982 and came under your purview in 1991, is but a pebble in the pond. But you might be well-advised to extend your cost-cutting our direction and drop your ill-fated expansion bid.

Being the tall Texans of trash, we realize you’re used to having your way with hayseeds like us. But this has become a debacle. It’s cost you gobs of money just to establish a losing streak leading right back where you started — ground zero.

To give you an idea how bad things are going, consider this little sampling of local headlines, culled from just the last two years: LUBA remands landfill. Appeals court upholds LUBA. High court sides with landfill opponents. City dumps Riverbend. Metro votes to cut ties. Odds grow longer.

You get the idea. The expansion plan you unveiled back in aught-six just isn’t going anywhere.

Please do us a favor and put it out of its misery. We doubt anyone outside your legal team would lament its very timely death.

Your latest legal setback, detailed in our Tuesday edition, should sound the death knell on your ninth local life. Enough is enough.

We applaud you for becoming “one of the foremost creators of renewable energy” and “working toward a more sustainable tomorrow.”

But could you please do it somewhere else among the vast corporate holdings you have sprawled across North America. We’ve had our fill here.

Thanks.

The News-Register Editorial Board 

Comments

Mike

Great editorial. Moved the story from a wagon load of garbage to the billion dollar garbage behemoth spread across the nation. Solid facts. Then pointing out our speck of a problem not worth the monster's trouble. Well done.

sbagwell

Thanks, Mike. Appreciate the vote of confidence.

Steve

Ilsa Perse

Stop the Dump Coalition and all its supporters have waited more than 12 years to see something like this in the local newspaper. Thanks! One day, I hope, there will be a story about how a hardy band of citizens, who dedicated thousands of hours and years of their lives to close this polluting cesspool on the South Yamhill River, managed to get us to this point. It hasn't been easy or cheap. And it's not over yet.

treefarmer

WELL SAID! NAILED IT! Your grateful community applauds you.

gregtompkins

We should get Covanta to move it’s incinerator out here build it right next to Trash Hill and use it as feed stock to turn into electricity. That Trash Hill is an eyesore. I remember as a kid trips to the dump and we would go down into a huge pit and dump our old refrigerators, washing machines, couches and all sorts of things. Now it’s a mountain!

Bill B

A well written editorial that I can get behind.

OregonBorn

While I agree with the message, the writing is amateurish.

"Hayseeds"? Please.

It's just a long winded NIMBY piece in the end.

Bill B

OregonBorn; you're wrong, just plain wrong.

sbagwell

hay·seed (hāsēd) / plural: hayseeds

1. grass seed obtained from hay.
2. a simple, unsophisticated person from the country.

Obviously, it was meant tongue in cheek. It was a reference to how company insiders in Houston view common-man opponents out here in Oregon farm country.
Steve

gregtompkins

I find it funny that people bellyache about the dump but seem to want overpopulation. Well sorry to point out the obvious but the more people you have the more garbage they will throw away. We should just put a sign at the California border quantifying how many trees get chopped for every person who comes in and how much garbage gets generated. If they can shame the progressives at the border maybe they’ll stay in their own state.

OregonBorn

Okay there Steve-O, I know the definition of hayseed, thanks. Super helpful. And while that derogatory term may describe your family and friends, it certainly does not describe mine.

But hey, way to keep feeding negative stereotypes of all those people who don't live in Portland.

You clearly belong there. You know, with all the other smug liberals. Feel free to move.

RobsNewsRegister

It's too bad our local land fill was filled with PDX Metro garbage. Maybe it could lasted longer. The 700/12,000 acre landfill you mention is all the way in eastern Oregon 174 miles from McMinnville. That's a long way to transport garbage requiring fuel. The fuel cost may be worth it though if arid land is a safer depository. Always seemed silly to have a landfill next to a chemical transport mechanism (river) to me anyway.

gregtompkins

OregonBorn you’re spot on with the smug liberal comment. Out of sight out of mind is their mantra. They love the illegals to do the dirty work their kids wont have to do, they want their landfills far away because the urban boundaries are too good for either the trash or the illegals overpopulating our area. And yet their policies make our cost of rents sky high then they want rent controls. Liberalism is bad for both the environment and the economy. Look at city of San Francisco as the most egregious example of how bad it can get. But we aren’t far behind here in liberal Oregon. They want to do San Francisco to an entire state!