Report sees potential jobs in zero-waste practices
By Nicole Million Midland Mirror
MIDLAND – Up to 400 new jobs could be created if Simcoe County municipalities move toward zero-waste practices, according to a consultant’s report released last week.
Nearly two dozen people rose bright and early Feb. 24 to learn about the issue at a meeting hosted by the group Zero Waste Simcoe.
The gathering, held in the Midland council chambers, was highlighted by the presentation of the report “Identifying Opportunity in the Green Economy – Waste Industry” by Ken Donnelly, vice-president of Lura Consulting.
“We looked at (other jurisdictions’) best practices and policies and what they’ve done to make it happen successfully,” Donnelly said, adding the firm applied that knowledge to the local situation to estimate how many jobs could be created if Simcoe County was to adopt practices that have proven to be successful in other areas.
That number, he said, has been estimated at between 220 and 400 jobs.
“There’s tremendous economic opportunity in waste diversion compared to just burying it in the landfill or burning it in an incinerator,” he told The Mirror. “If you are developing a waste-management system, it would be folly to not consider and seize the economic opportunities that are inherent in handling waste in a different manner.”
The best ways to move toward the goal of zero waste, he said, include extended producer responsibility, research and development, disposal restrictions and, most importantly, policy implementation.
“If you’re going to separate organics and have it composted, then don’t allow it to go into the landfill…. Simply ban it from disposal and make sure it gets directed into the beneficial uses. That will create jobs,” he said. “The good thing about putting policy in place is it’s not an injection of funds. It’s not the taxpayer having to pay for a composting facility…. You have good government policy that will then trigger investment from the private sector because they will know there is a stable supply of raw materials for them.”
Donnelly said the report – commissioned by Zero Waste Simcoe – has received quite a bit of support, though he acknowledged some people are dubious about the potential for job creation.
But when they learn the forecast is based on current practices across North America and as far as Australia, he said, their concerns are often eased.
Another question is whether the political will exists to put policies in place to force people to shift their thinking on the issue.
“There seems to be a little bit of skepticism as to whether or not that will occur … but that’s just a few people. Everybody else seems to realize the true potential for jobs,” Donnelly said. “It’s not difficult for politicians to put these things in place.
“It’s also easy to understand the benefits. If you’re going to have a blue-box program, why on Earth would you allow people to put that material in the landfill? You’ve got a better place to put it, so make them put it in that area. I don’t think it’s a real stretch to see the common sense and effectiveness of these programs.”
Midland resident Allan Shakes attended the meeting and said he was interested in the idea of zero waste and seeing what municipalities are doing. He said the information presented in the report was very positive.
“Whether all those jobs can be created in Simcoe County would be (based) partly on whether or not you had those recycling depots here,” he said, suggesting residents will be pleased to support a shift toward zero-waste practices.
“It’s just the satisfaction of being part of a program where your recycling is being looked after and (doesn’t) go into a landfill,” Shakes said. “I think we need to forget about Site 41 at this point in time and focus on what are we going to do and how are we going to do it.”
For more information on the report, visit www.zerowastesimcoe.org.