City hosts first of two public forums
By Andrew Philips,The Orillia Packet & Times
Orillia has come a long way when it comes to diverting waste, but there’s still more to be done.
That concept loomed large during a public information forum held at city hall Thursday afternoon to address the city’s waste-management plan for the next five years.
“Our objective is to reduce the waste generated per person by 10% at the end of 2020,” waste-management manager Greg Preston told those attending the session designed to help the city develop another five-year waste-minimization plan by gathering ideas and feedback from residents and businesses.
About 20 people attended the first of two public information forums presented by the city’s waste management advisory committee (WMAC), with a second public session scheduled for Wednesday evening at city hall.
Preston provided an overview of the city’s recent waste-diversion history, including the introduction of recycling in the late 1980s and the start of green-bin use from 2007 to 2009.
“The landfill was renamed the waste-diversion site in 1999 since the primary operation at the landfill is diversion,” said Preston, who outlined the many products at the site, ranging from drywall and shingles to tires and scrap metal that are now repurposed.
As well, he provided some of the recommendations the city adopted in 2011 following the approval of a previous five-year waste-minimization plan as mandated by the province.
“We implemented a mandatory source-separation bylaw,” he said, adding the city doesn’t fine people who don’t separate their waste but will leave it at the curb until the problem has been rectified.
As well, last fall, the city introduced every-other-week garbage collection in an effort to further divert waste while keeping weekly recycling and green-bin collection.
Mike McMurter, who attended the meeting, suggested the look at introducing a collection service for reusable furniture and other large items, given Orillia’s role as a growing hub for post-secondary education and its increasing senior population — two groups that may not have the ability to transport those kinds of items.
Preston said the waste-diversion site also lists stores in the area — including Goodwill, until recently — that accept used goods to give items a second life.
Fellow attendee Sue Walker Davies said she’s concerned with how plastic is recycled since some containers list their recycling number from one to seven while others are left blank.
“I have a separate bag for these plastics but worry what happens to them when I put them in the bin,” she said, adding she found through her own research there is a company near Niagara Falls that converts this type of unwanted plastic into biofuel.
McMurter also wondered why larger waste producers such as fast-food restaurants and businesses aren’t targeted more by the city.
Preston said many businesses participate in the process by regularly placing green bins and recycling containers at the curb for pickup.
“We endorse the zero-waste principles of shifting the cost of waste from the taxpayers to producers through extended producer responsibility,” Preston said.
He also encouraged those unable to attend the next session to go to orillia.ca and provide feedback on the plan while also completing a short survey about what they would like to see occur down the road.
“They can check boxes for stuff they would like to see diverted,” he said, noting some of the items listed on the survey that will be online until March 11 include large plastic toys, porcelain and window glass.
The complete draft plan will be posted on the city’s website April 18, with comments due May 2, before the report is presented to council committee May 30. From there, it will be forwarded to the province in June, with implementation beginning in July.
Once completed later this year, the plan should capture ways to reduce waste going to the landfill while improving diversion and recycling programs.
As an example of one idea that might make the final cut, Preston noted residents might be encouraged to begin using clear garbage bags.
“It would allow people to say to their neighbours that, ‘Hey, I’m doing everything I can to help the environment,’” he said, pointing out the bags could include smaller opaque privacy bags.