Convenience vs. Green Bins

The use of green bins, or more accurately, the disuse, of them has been a topic of attention lately. It started with the admission of a resident that she doesn’t use the green bin because of a fear of odours and pests she might encounter. A few letter writers responded in turn encouraging her and others to use the bin properly.

This week, Simcoe County, which manages waste for member municipalities, circulated a flyer with the shocking statistic that 40% of collected garbage is organic material that could be diverted to the green bin for composting. This summer the County is launching a pilot program, Feed Your Green Bin to Win. “The goal is to recognize and reward those using their green bin for doing the right thing”. The aim is to encourage more people to use the green bin most often.

I’m old enough to remember when all garbage cans were basically ‘green’ bins. ‘Back in the day’, before supermarkets, before plastic bags, before ‘fast’ food and prepackaged foods, the garbage bin was mostly all organic waste as I recall. As a boy – in Toronto at the time – it was my job to empty the garbage pail once or twice a week and take it Continue reading

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Legislating a Circular Economy

Recently the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) ran full-page ads to draw public attention to the Ontario government’s plan to introduce a new Waste Reduction Act. Previous draft legislation was interrupted by the election.

Currently, industry responsibility is capped at 50% of the cost of the Blue Box program. Municipal taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab. (Simcoe County’s draft 2015 operating budget for Solid Waste Management is $26.2 million).

CostperTonne

Ontario’s new legislation attempts to lift the Blue Box limit and make industry entirely responsible for the waste generated by their products. But according to AMO, the Ontario government is seriously wavering in its commitment to end the “shared cost” model. So far only the cost of recycling tires and electronics is fully covered by industry. Continue reading

County Ponders What to Do with Organic Waste

The County of Simcoe is treading carefully in planning new waste management facilities after the fierce, and ultimately successful, public opposition to the late Site 41 landfill proposal. The current waste management plan recommends development of a new Organics Processing Facility. Besides green bin, leaf and yard waste, it may be designed with the intention of adding pet waste or diapers as acceptable materials.

A public meeting will be held December 2 at the Simcoe County Museum, 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm to:

  • summarize the proposed siting process and methodology for this facility;
  • provide information and obtain feedback on site evaluation criteria; and
  • outline next steps in the siting process.

Continue reading

Is it Trash, Or Is It Treasure?

Big changes are preceded first by a big change in attitude. This is evident from looking at different attitudes to garbage on opposite sides of the Atlantic. In some places, we’re beginning to reconsider the value of what we’ve tossed and buried as ‘trash’. In some other places, virtually everything is ‘trash’ if we’re finished using it. And a new idea is also emerging – nothing is trash, unless shown otherwise.   Continue reading

Innovators On the Edge of History

In my last article I talked about some people being on the wrong side of history. There is also a flip side to this – a world-wide movement of individuals, organizations and corporations on the edge of history. They are people who are working toward a more sustainable model of development, with emphasis on being clean, natural, renewable, and/or recyclable, as well as profitable. Continue reading

Stuff: Do We Need It? Where to Buy It, How to Recycle It

I’ve recently read about two trends that, on the face of it, seem to be contradictory, but actually share a common thread. The first is a project to whittle your possessions down to 100 items and the other is a variation of the flash mob, called a “cash mob”. Continue reading