The other day at work, one of my colleagues passed a link on to me because she knew that I am interested in waste management. I really have to thank her because the link she provided was to an excellent 3 part article entitled “Trash Troubles – grappling with our garbage” (Metroland.com – Trash Troubles) published in MetroLand.com and authored by Don Campbell and Thana Dharmarajah. These two journalists have done a really good job describing the problems with our solid waste management in many communities in Southern and Eastern Ontario. It is really worth a read.
In the article, they describe the escalating cost of landfill, the ridiculous practice of shipping our garbage out of our jurisdictions, the patchwork of recycling programs across the province and they provide a few ideas about what citizens can do to minimize their impact on the environment. They discuss where the responsibility lies for cleaning up our act.
The most important thing that I took away from their article was a feeling that the province needs to step up to the plate and play a bigger role, establishing policies and standards for managing solid waste across all communities, identifying best practices, building markets for recycled materials, and helping to fund waste management programs in a way that provides the best bang for the buck.
Another thing that they bring up that I have been advocating for years is for extended producer responsibility for waste management. I blogged about this earlier in my open letter to the plastics industry. It is high time that we start holding producers partly responsible for managing the waste that flows from our consumption of their products. Yes, this will increase the costs of products, but we are paying anyway…this will only bring the payment front and centre and not hiding it in the line items of municipal taxes. If you want to read more about plastic recycling read my blog entry at https://gourken.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/an-open-letter-to-the-plastics-industry/.
Anyway, the article by Campbell and Dharmarajah is an excellent overview of the issues that we need to face if we are to manage our solid wastes responsibly. While the picture they paint isn’t too hopeful, they do present a few things that will help us see that the future isn’t too bleak either.
On a final note, I am still very intrigued with Mike Biddle’s idea of using of mining technologies to mine waste streams to allow the extraction and reuse of plastic polymers and metals. If it works, this is a paradigm shift worthy of the word. It seems to me that you could use this technology to go back into landfills and mine for valuable resources (like the plastic polymers and the metal ores buried there). If you want to read more about this technology (and see a video of how it works), visit Mr. Biddle’s web site at http://www.mbapolymers.com/home/.