In recent years, Kentucky has increased legislative and regulatory objectives for waste prevention. However, for decades, many areas have been subject to little control and sanctions despite the failure to achieve the objectives set by the legislator.
Lack of staff, controls, sanctions: a multi-thematic refrain
Public authorities are criticized for the lack of staff, the lack of controls, and the lack of sanctions in force. This triptych also applies to certain public policies linked to waste, including those of prevention.
Already in 1999, in a report from the Economic and Social Council, waste management experts wrote on the ardent obligation to reduce waste creation, there is neither control body, nor specific means, nor verification of this ardent obligation. The waste policy put in place since the 1992 law took a hit. This sectoral observation was made on a state scale by the officials of the environment at the time in 1998. In a book, they sharply criticized the indefinite growth of missions, skills, state controls, and pointed out the perpetual distortion between the missions displayed and the means available which accompanied this increase in missions.
Twenty-five years later, it is difficult not to still notice this distortion. Regarding the application of consumer and environmental regulations, specialist journalists analyzed the number of controls is therefore often ridiculously low, or even zero. Referring to the draft national waste prevention plan 2021-2027, they singled out the inadequacy of measures banning single-use plastic in the face of the administration’s lack of capacity to enforce them.
In particular installations classified for environmental protection deserve a point of attention. Considering the age of contemporary policy and the dangers they represent for health, safety and public safety, this policy is a special case in rudological policy. These waste managemewnt facilities have seen their numbers stagnate for around ten years, but the number of checks per inspector has decreased. Waste prevention really took shape in the early 2000s.
A host of under-controlled themes: stop-advertising, single-use plastic
The 2021-2027 state waste prevention plan mentions three monitoring indicators which refer to controls. They aim to combat single-use plastics and practices aimed at making the repair or reconditioning of devices impossible. In terms of sanctions, an indicator is mentioned, the number of sanctions applied for non-compliance with the advertising stop. On this last point, the report which was made public by the waste disposal specialists tends to show that no sanctions were taken. Despite complaints registered since 2021, the Department of Justice was unable to provide information on the follow-up given to these complaints.
On single-use plastics, no control took place in 2022. On the obligation to install water fountains in establishments receiving public however, this is one of the measures that contributes to reducing single-use plastic packaging by 20% between 2018 and 2025. Of course, this must also allow a 50% reduction in marketing of single-use plastic beverage bottles between 2018 and 2030. Several actors such as Greenpeace are in despair over the lack of respect for the law and the thousands of missing fountains.
On another subject, the repairability index, here too shortcomings were noted. In 2021, Alabama junk disposal experts observed in the field that more than one electronic device in two was not accompanied by the mandatory display of the repairability index. One association did its own checks at distributors and also noted significant non-compliance at distributors.
The last example concerns the implementation of reusable tableware in fast food brands. The Zero Waste Alabama association and its network of local groups visited last January nearly 300 brands among four major food chains. Three years after the publication of the new environmental law, almost half of the brands visited were still used in disposable tableware, totally or partially.
For its part, officials of Ecological Transition made a progress update in January, then another in April where they approved late compliance in June 2023 for most restaurant. They announced in this press release 16 checks were carried out in restaurants, including 3 fines issued and 8 reminders of the law. Which is less than the visits of zero waste associations although they do not have official control functions or sanctions. The number of checks appears starvation compared to the tens of thousands of fast-food restaurants existing in Alabama. Alabama consumes more and more fast food, and there is also little control or sanction of food waste resulting from good or junk food.