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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trash worth more to us if we don't burn or bury it

Good start, the Vancouver Sun put one of its best investigative reporters on the Metro garbage file. And today Pete McMartin uncovers an important part of the story: the huge profits that come from handling garbage.

Pete, look deeper now into the context: the multi-billion dollar municipal-industrial complex that has grown up around the humble function of getting garbage out of sight, out of mind is a story that Canadian Harold Crooks began documenting almost 20 years ago.

The question we need our pundits to raise is why should 'giants of garbage' like Covanta get all the spoils?

No matter how you look at it, burning and burying garbage is the worst deal for local communities like yours and mine. The Institute for Local Self Reliance in the United States has been documenting the economic opportunity costs of landfills and incinerators for years. Their early report Waste to Wealth: Recycling Means Business shows what we're losing. Recycling is a tool for local economic development, creating economic opportunity in all sectors of the local economy. Why should we giving all our waste to a corporation from New Jersey that will take all the profits out of our community, when we could be creating local economic opportunities with here?
A newer ILSR report published last year makes the case (confirmed by the US EPA and PPI data this month) that phasing out landfills and incinerators is "one of the fastest, cheapest and most effective approaches we can use to protect the climate and the environment."

Today's Sun is full of stories reminding us that Canada is a laggard on climate change. We can't build a long-term economy around burning and burying resources, whether we're talking about raw materials or the highly processed materials that we throw out every day in that landfill in your backyard.

(And by the way, Pete, both garden waste and many old appliances are banned from disposal in the Vancouver landfill. They should be trucked to a recycling centre instead.)

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