Discussion paper invites ideas on reducing landfill waste

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PICTOU – In an effort to divert more waste from landfills, the province is considering more restrictions on what you can throw away.

However, it wants to hear public opinion on the issue first and is asking Nova Scotians for feedback on a discussion paper about solid waste regulation.

Carol MacKenzie of Pictou County Solid Waste said the province has a goal of reducing waste to the landfill by 300 kilograms per person per year.

“It’s not a municipal initiative, it’s provincial,” she said, adding that Pictou County is on par with other municipalities in the province in its efforts to reduce waste reduction.

She has been working with the province on the discussion paper and sees the proposed changes as a way to meet that 2015 goal. 

Some of the proposed changes include product stewardship that would require companies to submit a plan to the minister of the environment detailing how they would ensure products are recycled instead of going to landfills. 

She said British Columbia is a good example of a province that has stewardship in place and has had positive results.

The main goal of stewardship is to encourage producers to design their products with the environment in mind, reduce unnecessary packaging, provide supports to local solid waste programs and create new economic opportunities.

It will also mean more products could be placed curbside for recycling or taken to collection depots rather than ending up in the landfill. The report states that some products may have a fee at the time of the purchase to cover recycling costs or the company can absorb that cost.

A second recommendation in the report is an expansion of disposal bans. This will divert waste from the landfill, in particular debris items from construction and demolition sites.

For example, the report states, that gypsum wallboard combined with wood waste can be used to make animal bedding while asphalt shingles can be used to create multi-use trials and new pavement, or used as alternative fuel.

MacKenzie said the biggest obstacle in getting more items from the landfill to the recycling bags is finding markets for these items. 

“There will have to be markets in these expanding areas,” she said, adding that mattresses are on the proposed list because box springs can be broken down and the wood and textiles can be reused.  “We would like to keep things in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.“

The bans could also be expanded to include larger tires like those used by all-terrain vehicles, farm tractors and tractor-trailers.

“Right now, those large tractor tires go in the landfill,” she said.

MacKenzie said she believes people will welcome the proposed changes because they want to make a difference.

“A lot people want to do more and hate to throw away something in the garbage,” she said.

The province’s discussion paper can be found at

http://www.novascotia.ca/nse/waste/docs/solid-waste-public-discussion.pdf

 

Geographic location: Nova Scotians, Pictou County, British Columbia Nova Scotia Atlantic Canada

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