1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

Bethlehem Work On Waste Records


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This collection is about the Bethlehem Work on Waste (BWOW) and its opposition of the American Ref-Fuel/BFI incinerator from 1989 to 1995.


Bethlehem Work On Waste
Date Coverage:
1.99 cubic ft. (about 1.99 boxes)  processed to date

Bethlehem Work on Waste (BWOW) was begun in the spring of 1989 by Betsy Lyons, Betty Albright, and other residents from the town of Bethlehem, New York. It began in opposition to American Ref-fuel/BFI's (Brown Ferris Industries and Air Products and Chemical Inc.) proposal to build an incinerator on Cabbage Island (now Beacon Island) in Bethlehem. After defeating the proposed American Ref-fuel/BFI incinerator the group organized with environmentalists from the town of Coeymans against a proposed ANSWERS (Albany New York Solid Waste Energy Recovering System) landfill. In 1992 the EAC (Energy Answers Corporation) proposed building a waste management facility that included an incinerator on Green Island, located in Albany near Troy, or Cabbage Island, the same site that BWOW fought to protect against American Ref-Fuel/BFI's proposal. On June 18, 1992 a referendum vote was held in Bethlehem and rejected EAC's proposal and prohibited the building of incinerators in the town. BWOW advocated the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The group wrote editorials, spoke at public meetings, held public forums, gave talks at schools and for community groups, and organized recycling days for the community. They were the first in the community to organize days for recycling of certain materials such as books, shoes, and latex paints. They mentored the student group Students Reduce Our Trash who put together a lesson plan for the Bethlehem Central School District incorporating the 3 R's. They also formulated a Solid Waste Disposal System for the town of Bethlehem. The group put out extensive information not only about themselves but also about the dangers of incineration. In 1991 the group incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. Money came from member donations and fundraising events. The group ended its efforts in the mid 1990s. The last newsletter was issued in 1995

This collection documents the work of Bethlehem Work on Waste (BWOW) from its inception in 1989 and its first opposition of the American Ref-Fuel/BFI incinerator through 1995. The materials in the collection include correspondence between BWOW and members of town and state government as well as other environmentally concerned groups and individuals. There are also numerous news clippings related to the waste management facility proposals BWOW opposed, as well as articles about the group's activities within the town such as recycling days. BWOW also spoke and wrote about the dangers of incineration and promoted waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. There are notes from BWOW meetings and notes from speaking engagements. There are materials related to the three waste management facility proposals BWOW opposed. The files include relevant correspondence, news articles, reports and materials from the companies proposing the waste management facilities. There is also material related to the June 18, 1992 election in Bethlehem in which the EAC proposal was defeated and the town voted to ban incinerators. The collection also includes videos. Some of the videos are home recordings of news programs about the incinerator proposals. Greenpeace produced one of the videos about the dangers of incinerators and community protest against them. The collection is weak in the day-to-day operations of the group. There is little financial information. Files are arranged alphabetically within each series. Materials within the files are arranged chronologically, items without dates come first in the folders.

The collection is organized into the following series:

Files are arranged alphabetically within each series. Materials within the files are arranged chronologically, items without dates come first in the folders.

All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Elizabeth Lyons in November 2002.

Processed by: Michelle M. Powers

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2018-03-06 02:10:15 -0500

Encoded in EAD by Lisa Christopher, 2013

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.

Copyright Statement

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Bethlehem Work On Waste Records, 1989-1996. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).

Contents of Collection

Quantity: 0.33 cubic ft. (about 0.33 boxes)

Organized alphabetically.

The Administration series includes material related to the founding and growth of BWOW. There are copies of the organization's by-laws and incorporation papers. There are notes and outlines for BWOW presentations and speaking engagements. There is correspondence between members of BWOW and government officials including the Town Board, the Town Supervisor, the Town Attorneys, the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Assembly, and the Rensselaer County Legislature. Meeting minutes are separated between the typed minutes from a few of the meetings in 1990 and 1991 and the handwritten notes kept in two spiral bound notebooks from 1990 to 1995. BWOW's newsletter was first issued in November of 1990 with issue #1. In January of 1991, a second newsletter labeled Volume 1, #1 was printed with the title Words on Waste. Words on Waste was published three or four times a year from 1991 through 1995. There are a few issues missing in the collection. The Miscellaneous folder contains three printouts. Two of these printouts include correspondence, news releases, meeting agendas, and notes. Some of the items may be copies of items found in this or the following series. The third printout is a listing of documents that were created by BWOW and an annotated bibliography of publications regarding environmental issues such as recycling, incineration, and waste reduction.



1 1By-laws, undatedUndated


1 2Correspondence1990


1 3Correspondence1991


1 4Correspondence1992-1993


1 5Correspondence1994-1995


1 6Financial1990-1991


1 7Incorporation1991


1 8Minutes1990-1991


1 9Minutes1990-1994


1 10Minutes1994-1995


1 11Miscellaneous1990-1992


1 12Newsletter1990-1995


1 13Speaking Engagements, undatedUndated
Quantity: 0.8 cubic ft. (about 0.8 boxes)

Organized Alphabetically

BWOW was involved with three major opposition campaigns to waste management facilities. Each one is arranged as a sub-series. Sub-series one is American Ref-Fuel/BFI's proposal in 1989 to build an incinerator on Cabbage Island in Bethlehem. Sub-series two is the proposal by Albany New York Solid Waste Energy Recovering System (ANSWERS) in 1991 to create a landfill in the town of Bethlehem or Coeymans. BWOW worked with environmental organizations in the town of Coeymans to prevent its development in either area. Sub-series three is the Energy Answers Corporation (EAC) proposed building of a waste management facility that included an incinerator on Cabbage Island or Green Island. On June 18, 1992 a referendum vote was held in Bethlehem and rejected EAC's proposal and banned the building of incinerators in Bethlehem.

Files include proposals from the waste management companies, news clippings, legal papers related to the building of the facilities, correspondence from BWOW and other environmental advocacy organizations to government offices or the media, fliers for public forums, and items related to the scoping process. The "scoping process" is the process by which the public is given an opportunity to comment on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).



1 1American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, Proposal, undatedUndated


1 2American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1989


1 3American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1990


1 4American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, June-October 19901990


1 5American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1990


1 6American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1991


1 7American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1989


1 8American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator1990-1991


1 9American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, Scoping Process1992


1 10American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, Scoping Process1992


1 11American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, New Releases from BWOW1989-1990


1 12American Ref-Fuel/BFI Incinerator, Flyers, undatedUndated


2 1ANSWERS Landfill1991


2 2ANSWERS Landfill, 1992-19941992-1994


2 3ANSWERS Landfill, 1994-19951994-1995


2 4ANSWERS Landfill, Scoping Process1995


2 5ANSWERS Landfill, Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement1990


2 6ANSWERS Landfill, News Releases from BWOW1991


2 7ANSWERS Landfill, Flyers, undatedUndated


2 8Energy Answers Corporation, undated, 1990Undated


2 9Energy Answers Corporation1992-1994


2 10Energy Answers Corporation, News Releases from BWOW1991


2 11Energy Answers Corporation, Flyers, undatedUndated
Quantity: 0.83 cubic ft. (about 0.83 boxes)

Organized Alphabetically

This series contains various BWOW files that are not specifically related to any waste management facility or the group's administration. The files include copies of Bethlehem's town codes and laws regarding waste management, BWOW's Solid Waste Management plan, numerous lesson plans for teachers in grades K-12 from government and environmental agencies and one specifically created for the Bethlehem Central School District by Students Reduce Our Trash (Students R.O.T) who were mentored by BWOW, Bethlehem's Town Board Meeting minutes, random flyers and news releases announcing events and meetings, information for various topics such as incineration, composting, and recycling, testimonies given by BWOW and its members, and files for special events such as paint recycling. The series also includes news clippings regarding BWOW's work and environmental concerns, the majority of clippings come from the local newspaper, The Spotlight.



1 1Bethlehem, Solid Waste Management Codes and Laws, undated1989-1996, Undated


1 2BWOW Solid Waste Plan1993


1 3Composting, undated1989-1996, Undated


1 4Flyers, undated1989-1996, Undated


1 5Household Hazards. A Guide to Detoxifying Your Home1988


1 6Illegal Dumping in New York State1991


1 7Incineration, 19881988, Undated


1 8Incineration, 1989-19921989-1992


1 9Lesson Plans1989-1996, Undated


1 10Lesson Plans1989-1990


1 11Lesson Plans, Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycle: A Solid Waste Program for the Bethlehem Central School District1991


1 12Lesson Plans, Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycle: A Solid Waste Program for the Bethlehem Central School District1991


1 13Lesson Plans, Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycle: A Solid Waste Program for the Bethlehem Central School District1991


2 1Miscellaneous1989-1996, Undated


1 13Lesson Plans, Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycle: A Solid Waste Program for the Bethlehem Central School District1991


2 1Miscellaneous1989-1996


2 2News ClippingsUndated


2 3News Clippings1992-1995


2 4News Releases from BWOWUndated


2 5Paint RecyclingUndated


2 6Paint Recycling1989-1991


2 7Paint Recycling1992-1994


2 8RecyclingUndated


2 9Recycling and Composting1990


2 10Recycling and Composting Programs, Volume 11992


2 11Recycling and Composting Programs, Volume 21992


2 12Recycling and Composting Programs, Volume 31992


3 1Superfund Monitoring Program1987


3 2Testimonies1990-1993


3 3Town Board Meetings1992
Quantity: 0.17 cubic ft. (about 0.17 boxes)

Organized Chronologically

There are five videos in the collection.



1 1 Solid Waste Town Meeting, #1 1989, 1989-1996


1 2 A WMHT Town Meeting #2. Questions, Concerns, Misconceptions: Integrated Waste Management in the Capital Region 1990


1 3 North St. Dump 1992


1 4 The Rush to Burn Undated


1 5 WOW No.3 Saugus, Massachusetts Incinerator Undated