Contributor Jackie Edwards takes a look at Canada’s garbage disposal systems that vary from community to community.
March 27, 2018
by Jackie White, Freelance Writer
Does where you live dictate what you can recycle? That simple question answers a resounding “Yes!”
Communities across Canada have different rules regarding what can be thrown out and how they are thrown out as waste—and it can be confusing.
To remove the confusion, a new plan is gaining steam: Make haste for zero waste.
A Case for Zero Waste was produced in British Columbia aiming to reduce and ultimately eliminate garbage. It favors a 5 R pollution prevention hierarchy as a planning tool; namely reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery and residuals management.
In April 2017, Global Recycling reported that the Canadian Plastics Industry Association announced a collection for recycling rate of 79 percent of plastics material.
Since January 1, 2018, the lower grade mixed materials that were going to China can no longer be shipped away. As such, the future of a circular economy for plastics may be on the cards sooner rather than later.
Each municipality develops its own waste management program which could include: curbside collection, depot drop-off and/or pay-as-you-throw as long as it complies with the requirements of the Environmental Protection bye laws.
Municipality Green Waste Limitations
Nova Scotia has a green cart curbside collection which takes organics including: all food waste; cooking oils and fats; leaves, brushes and plants; soiled napkins and kitchen towels as well as coffee filters and teabags.
The province enforces penalties for not abiding by the bylaws and violating curbside regulations.
In Toronto, almost 50 percent of household waste (by weight) is organic material. The city’s policy is to keep that waste away from landfill through their Green Bin Program which aims to compost organic material.
Further to Nova Scotia’s extensive list, it also takes house plants (with soil), diapers and animal feces in its green bin.
The region of Waterloo welcomes cold wood ash and some paper packaging products but says no to yard waste and diapers.
It appears each municipality has its own preferences.
Individual Opportunities to Reduce Waste
If you are in Hamilton, you have the opportunity to purchase your own backyard composter and reduce the waste before it gets to the curbside.
The city even provides tips on how to get started, highlight common composting problems and detail the uses of compost.
After Hamilton’s green bin waste has been transformed by City Services, they invite the residents to come along with a shovel to help themselves and reap the rewards of successful green waste management.
In order to reduce food waste, the in-sink, electric garbage disposal unit has increased in popularity particularly in areas of large cities where there is little place to store trash.
Where curb sides have their limitations, responsible use of garbage disposals can fulfill a unique need. Food waste that would typically wind up in a landfill can instead go through a shredding process and on to the sewer plant with other wastewater for treatment producing biogas for energy and heat as a by-product.
Theoretically the Future is Green
The main environmental threat from bio-waste (and other biodegradable waste) is the production of methane from such waste decomposing in landfills.
This threat does not change for any part of Canada, but it is the differing approach of the municipalities that is being transformed.
Global Landfill Directives hold countries to account. On a more local level, aspiring to have a zero waste life is now seen for some as synonymous with well-being. and self-preservation.
As the impacts on our curbs, neighborhoods and within the ocean currents are becoming more and more noticeable, so our need to evolve should be a more prominent thought.
It is the ever-evolving cycle of packaging producers befitting consumer demand to maximize profits that may be costing us more than we think.
The pollution prevention hierarchy supports a circular economy approach that provides jobs, promotes packaging innovation and helps protect the environment. For the consumer, realistically we need to embrace or lose our waste.