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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Municipalities busy solving waste problem while Metro dithers

Metro Vancouver is increasingly living in a world of its own, isolated from the reality unfolding all around it.

Two cities have openly challenged the regional government's proposed solid waste management plan. More cities will defect as the preposterous cost and risk of Metro's proposal become clear.

And meanwhile, our cities are busy building programs to eliminate the million tonnes of "non-recyclable waste" that Metro wants to burn.

Half the waste in our region is compostable organics. Port Coquitlam and Port Moody are already reducing their waste by collecting food scraps for composting. The City of Vancouver is prepared to ban compostable organics from disposal in a mere 5 years. By that time there will be composting plants and anaerobic digestion facilities across the region turning these materials into soil amendments and truly clean energy. Abbotsford has already approved a special facility to turn agriculatural manure into clean energy through anaerobic digestion.

The other half of our waste is the throw-away products and packaging that have become a hallmark of our Disposable Society. But these, too, are not inevitable. Policies are in place to make them obsolete.

A ground-breaking waste reduction policy pioneered in British Columbia two generations ago when the Social Credit Party introduced North America's first mandatory deposit refunds on beer and soft drink containers will end the municipal responsibility for cleaning up after the producers of throw-away products.

Producers are being called to the table one sector of industry at a time, and told to take back their products and recycle them: old paint, old televisions and computers, used oil, tires -- soon any appliance with a cord will go back to be recycled instead of ending up in our municipal waste system. The current minister of environment has told municipalities that ultiimately provincial law will require producer responsibility for all products and packaging.

Our municipal and provincial governments are busy solving the waste problem while Metro Vancouver is still caught in a time-warp.

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