Submitted by Jacqui Wakefield, MNBP Waste Diversion Group
Time for our annual “report card” on waste and recycling in the Municipality of the Northern Bruce Peninsula….
The good news?
Since curbside collection of garbage and recycling began in January 2017 for all the Northern Bruce, the amount of blue box recycling has increased steadily. According to Waste Management of Canada, our residential “diversion rate” for 2018 is now at 38.1% — up from 35.7% at the start of 2017. Hats off to all the residents who have been recycling and to Council and municipal staff in Public Works who have helped make this possible.
The bad news?
Although we are increasing the amount of material we recycle, the total amounts (tonnes) of both recycling and household waste INCREASED in 2018 compared with 2017. This fits with a recent provincial discussion paper noting that each person in Ontario produces nearly a tonne of waste each year. That is a lot of stuff!!
During summer here on the Bruce, the amounts of both trash and recycling typically double or triple compared with the amounts collected in the winter. This is no surprise, as seasonal residents return and visitors arrive. On the positive side, the percent of recycling to waste actually stays quite consistent throughout the year, so thanks to our seasonal residents who are doing their share!
Overall, this pattern of increased waste and increased recycling raises numerous questions that we need to tackle as we head into the summer of 2019. We have made improvements over the past year, but the amount of waste we put out at curbside is almost double the amount that we recycle – and we put out way too much.
Do you think we can do better?
First, the basics. For curbside collection, garbage and recyclables should be out by 8 am every Monday. Although usual pick-up may be later than this, the early time allows for last minute changes in routes that may be necessary from time-to-time. A dual-stream truck picks up both waste and recycling, and the driver puts items in the appropriate compartment.
Covering garbage bags & recycling containers with a heavy blanket or carpet can deter some wildlife. Residents who use bins to hold their waste are encouraged to use a flag system, with “flag UP” to signal there are materials for collection.
Second, review your recycling. Are you putting out at least as much recycling as waste? Are you recycling everything you can? Materials accepted for recycling in our municipality include:
• Glass: clear or coloured bottles and jars
• Cardboard: clean corrugated cardboard, box board (eg, cereal and cracker boxes), boxed beverage containers
• Paper: envelopes, paperbacks, magazines and catalogues, printer and fine paper, newspapers and flyers [Shredded paper ONLY if it is contained in a closed paper bag, NOT in a plastic bag!]
• Metal (aluminum, tin and steel): pop cans, food or soup cans
•Plastic: bottles, tubs and lids, food and beverage containers marked with recycling symbols. [NO plastic bags! They can destroy the recycling machinery.]
Please make sure that all containers are rinsed, dry and empty. If there is food waste left in the container, the item is “contaminated” and it will not be recycled. Food waste also attracts more wildlife at our homes and at the roadside! In addition, our recyclables are sorted by humans at Mount Forest, not by machines. How clean would you want containers if you were sorting?
“Blue Boxes” are the preferred containers for recycled materials, and every household is entitled to one free box from the Municipality. If you do not yet have your blue box, contact the Municipality or ask at a landfill site. Waste Management of Canada (WMC) says other plastic totes or laundry hampers are also acceptable. Clear plastic bags for recycling are NOT recommended – as the bags must be manually opened by WMC Staff and the bags themselves cannot be recycled.
Third, try to plan ahead… If you cannot use Monday curbside collection, remember the landfill sites. The Lindsay Waste Disposal Site at 627 Ira Lake Road is open every Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. This site is just off Highway 6 on the west side south of Lindsay Road 20 – making it a convenient stop for those travelling from northern parts of the municipality. In addition, both Eastnor and St. Edmunds Waste Disposal Sites will be open on Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm. This means there will be at least one waste disposal and recycling site in the Municipality open every Saturday and Sunday. Both recyclables and waste can be taken to the landfill sites. The limits on household waste are two bags each week, but there are no limits on recycling.
Next, keep the most toxic trash out of landfill sites. Removing hazardous waste protects our environment and our groundwater. Hazardous waste includes many household and automotive cleaners, batteries, paints, herbicides and pesticides, medications, fluorescent bulbs, and many more products. The upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Days are:
•July 13, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., St. Edmunds Waste Disposal Site
•August 17, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Eastnor Waste Disposal Site
Finally, let’s try to answer some specific nagging questions. Future articles in this paper will address some common questions and answers – and explore how we can “do better”.