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Allow city residents to recycle food scraps

Last year, Buffalo's recycling rate was one-fifth of the national average. This year, the city implemented its Buffalo Green Cart Recycling Program to decrease waste and increase recycling. There has been an immediate increase in participation. Yet there is still a great deal of recyclable material in household garbage. How can we reduce waste even more? The answer is simple; allow city residents to recycle food scraps.

In one year, the city hauled 136,000 tons of trash to a landfill, costing $4.8 million. Last month, city residents recycled more than 1,000 tons of material at the curb. Every ton of waste that households divert from garbage to recycling saves the city $52. To further reduce waste, the city should add food scraps as a category of material to recycle and reuse. Food scraps, such as fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry scraps, eggshells and coffee grounds, can be eliminated from waste. Curbside food scraps collection takes materials to a processing plant and turns it into compost for the soil. There are growing numbers of urban farms and community gardens that could reuse the compost. It can also create revenue for the city if the compost is sold.

In the past three years, University at Buffalo Campus Dining & Shops has made significant strides in collecting unused food from its campus cafeterias, dining halls and restaurants and turning it into compost. It processes 660 pounds of food waste a day, which is used on garden beds around campus.

Recycling creates jobs, keeps waste out of landfills, decreases costs to the city and provides materials needed in the community. This is an easy way to make Buffalo a progressive and environmentally sustainable city.

Rebecca Mize

Buffalo

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Why must Romney rely on wife's perspective?

Why do I get an uneasy feeling when I read that Mitt Romney learns about the issues women are interested in from his wife? Certainly a wife's perspective is useful to a husband. If, however, that husband is running for president, I would be more confident if he could speak articulately and passionately about the issues women, and for that matter all people, have from his vast experiences and knowledge base, and not from his wife's perspective. How will Romney be able to catch up, shore up and step up with genuine compassion and understanding about women's issues quickly? Let's hope that he is able to do so.

I would guess most Americans want a president who will cause conditions to improve for people and the environment. Let's look at "improve" as the operative word. When people are well off financially, what improvement do their lives need? Does Romney need to create conditions to help the wealthiest Americans?

As gas prices rise, we may point the finger at oil companies and refineries and consider alternatives that would help both people and the environment. Fuel-efficient cars seem to make sense. General Motors produced the Volt, which gets 61 mpg. This is good for the environment. It is assembled by unionized workers. This is good for the people who have these jobs. So what is wrong with the Volt, whose sales were rising until the conservative media spoke out against it with untruths such as "It catches fire"? The European Volt was named European car of the year. No Volt has ever caught fire. So what does this have to do with Romney? Instead of having the courage to face his conservative allies with the truth of the Volt helping Americans reduce oil consumption, he meekly remarked, "I'm not sure America was ready for the Chevy Volt." Please notice the past tense. How will this candidate help America to move into the future?

Marguerite Battaglia

Buffalo

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Local IDAs boost towns' development

As he crisscrosses the county, we have all read and heard Assemblyman Sean Ryan repeat over and over again that he is against local industrial development agencies. He insists that the IDAs' use of public funds to benefit businesses is wrong and only the Erie County IDA should be allowed to decide how these funds are distributed. If these uses are so wrong, why was Ryan present at the unveiling of the renovated Hotel Lafayette, which was touted to the general public as a prime example of the benefits of the use of public funds to encourage private investment?

It is necessary to listen carefully to the arguments that Ryan makes to support his positions. He usually accompanies his assertions with statistics that can never be corroborated but make for good sound bites. In many meetings, he has made statements that border upon the ridiculous, such as his "fact" that the Town of Hamburg IDA has done nothing for the past three years.

I hope he understands that the savings produced through an IDA exemption allow the developer to increase his investment, which translates in the long run to more jobs and a higher taxable property. I hope he understands that none of the IDAs object to collaboration and input by the county IDA. I hope he understands that most town residents do not want the future of their town decided by an outside agency with the stated aim of steering investment away from the suburbs and to the city. I hope he does; but his statements say he doesn't.

Peter Reszka

Blasdell

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Community pharmacies best serve customers

The recent approval by the Federal Trade Commission of the Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions merger has resulted in the largest pharmacy benefit management company (PBM) in the country. While some experts believe this merger will ultimately lower health care costs, others believe it will restrict consumers' choice of pharmacy and impact the viability of local, independent pharmacies, causing health care costs to rise even further.

Independent Health does not use a large national company to manage its pharmacy benefits. Rather, we are the only health plan in Western New York with an in-house PBM function, keeping business, customer service functions and jobs in this community. In addition, by bringing our PBM function in-house, we're able to pass the savings on to our members by eliminating the costs of outsourcing this function to a shareholder-owned company. We are proud of the partnership we've established with community pharmacies over the years, which has created a higher level of value, quality and service for our members.

As efforts to address rising health care costs continue and short-term fixes to this national problem are used, Independent Health will maintain our focus on long-term solutions and collaborative relationships within the community that will improve the access, delivery, experience and affordability of care for our members and the entire region.

Martin Burruano, RPh

Director, Pharmacy Services

Independent Health