Options for Increasing Our Waste Diversion
Simcoe County waste management staff are struggling to find ways to increase waste diversion rates from the current 60% to reach the target of 71% by 2020. The struggle isn’t so much with how to do it as it is to persuade their bosses, County Council, to give them the go ahead.
Staff are presenting six options to County Council Committee of Whole tomorrow, Tuesday September 27. They include reducing the curbside garbage limit 8 (1 untagged and 7 tagged) to 4 (1 untagged and 3 tagged), requiring standardized size garbage containers, a mandatory diversion by-law, reduced double up (an extra free bag at Thanksgiving, Victoria Day and Boxing Day) program, a textile collection pilot project and an electronics collection pilot project.
The reduced double up days, textile collection and electronic collection proposals seem like no-brainers and have little effect on the diversion rate.
The reduction from 7 tagged bags to 3 seems to be a no brainer as well. Are there actually households that put out 7 tagged bags? There is no excuse for a residence to be putting out even 3 tagged bags. There may be some businesses that put out numerous bags but the County is not even required to collect garbage or recycling from Industry, Commercial and Institutional locations. Those sectors also have a responsibility to reduce their waste stream.
The mandatory diversion by-law basically would say that unless you put your organics in the green bin your garbage will not be picked up. There will likely be a backlash from some less conscientious residents but they’re the ones that need that push to “get with the program.” So County Councillors need to stand firm and defend this as the right thing to do. After all, it’s “for the greater good.”
The standardized container issue is a bit more complicated. Some people and businesses are using oversized bins and bags to circumvent the current bag limit. Standardizing the container size/shape seems like a good idea, especially in the long term. The problem is that even the people who are already complying are using a variety of containers. There is a significant cost to change everybody over to one universal container size/shape. So who pays, the County (all taxpayers) or each residence? I’m not even going to try to figure that one out. All these reports are available on the County website (agenda items 16-21).
The Province has passed the Waste-Free Ontario Act which has lofty goals of eliminating waste in Ontario. I think there is a strong need for Simcoe County and the Cities of Barrie and Orillia to start serious collaboration with the province on how to work together to achieve a zero waste society. None of these governments can achieve the goal alone.