Which future do we want for our region?
Do we want to build a million tonnes of incineration capacity to vaporize garbage into the atmosphere?
Or do we want to hand the garbage problem to the people who caused it: the producers of throw-away products and packaging?
When the beverage industry switched from refillable bottles to throw-away containers, this dumped a big problem on local communities who were faced with disposing of literally billions of containers that used to go back to stores.
But British Columbia and then Alberta took a strong stand.
They became the first jurisdictions in North America to require beverage companies to take back their empties and issue a cash reward for recycling.
Overnight beverage containers stopped being a garbage problem. Instead they became a fund-raising project for kids' hockey teams and scout groups.
Today 3 out of 4 empty containers find their way back to the producers for recycling in BC and Alberta and the 6 other Canadian provinces that require refundable deposits -- compared to 1 container out of 5 in places like Ontario where there is no producer-responsibility program.
But yesterday Alberta decided even that wasn't good enough.
The Alberta government announced that they are raising the cash recycling reward that producers must pay from 5 cents to 10 cents.
They're also requiring producers to get back 85% of the containers they sell.
And that's not all.
They told milk producers that they had to do the same thing as other beverage companies. Starting next June, consumers will get a cash reward for recycling milk containers, just as they do for all other beverage containers.
This is the future.
No longer will producers of throw-away products and packaging be allowed to dump their waste problem on local communities. Like Alberta, BC is a world leader in producer-responsibility legislation.
When all of the throw-away products and packaging in Metro Vancouver goes back to producers the way beverage containers (and computers and TVS and a whole range of household hazardous products do), our garbage will shrink by 570,000 tonnes each year.
All that will be left is compostable organics.
If we build all those incinerators, what will we put in them?
Pic: Food Poison Blog