Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How about some junkets to the Maritimes?

Mary-Em Wadding of Computers for Schools wrote this about her observations on a recent trip to the Maritimes:

Hi Everyone – I just returned from a trip to the Maritimes and was pretty impressed with what I saw out there in terms of home recycling and composting options for the residents in PEI and Nova Scotia.

New Brunswick had a program similar to BC with the exception of glass, which is land-filled there.
[Ed Note: landfilling glass is not so dumb. The glass we recycle is not "recycled" into new glass but "downcycled" into sand and gravel substitute. This is a complete write-off on all the energy used to create the glass. The only really good use of glass is in refillable bottles ~ as is still done by Canada's beer industry.]

My hostess in PEI had a little waste can in the bathroom and a bigger can for compost! For tissues and other assorted paper products etc, a very active green organics collection program, and their local recycling plant had a wind turbine on the roof!

All kitchen scrap is collected in Nova Scotia, and many of the fast-food restaurants have bins for both waste and compost available for consumers to use after their meals – see the photo. (not that they were used without confusion as to what went where, but I didn’t take a picture of inside the waste containers).

Perhaps Metro shouldn’t be sending politicians to Sweden to look at waste-to-energy. It seems a trip to the Maritimes might prove a better example at moving towards zero waste. If they can do it, why can’t we?

1 comment:

Colin Bell said...

This is an excellent observation and very interesting. As a Maritimer that moved to Calgary years ago I was shocked by the lack of diversion. It didn't seem to really be on the minds of people in Calgary and composting was really a foreign concept. With my move to the West Coast I'm glad to be back in a society where diversion is on the radar of the public.

One of the factors in the diversion game is that it is expensive in terms of immediate dollars (not long term if you look at the big picture) to setup aggresive diversion programs. Nova Scotia for example has one of the highest waste disposal costs in North America if you look at the per capita cost per person. Local governments spend a lot on collecting, diverting, and managing waste. In Vancouver our cost per capita is much lower mostly because we haven't started to invest in the infrastructure. It's going to cost money to divert waste and refine the system, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. When waste disposal becomes more expensive it makes people think about what they are doing. When I'm looking for customers one of the most common comments is "We don't spend enough to make it worthwhile". Obviously hiking the price overnight will cause all kinds of problems like illegal dumping, etc. but if it's so cheap that it's not on the mind of business owners that signals that the market isn't reflecting the true cost of waste disposal.

Colin Bell
Managing Partner
Keystone Cost Reduction