It takes only one misplaced item to red-flag a bag of recyclables, so it’s not hard to see that fast-food restaurants run into difficulties with their waste. Thus, patrons in Pictou County will notice a marked difference with staff taking over separation of disposed material.
As the province eyes a 25 per cent reduction in landfill waste by 2015, the onus is passed along to businesses and households.
There isn’t much choice – suitable locations for landfill waste are finite – so Pictou County Solid Waste has stepped in to see that items are properly sorted at area restaurants. This county is the only one so far to adopt such measures, says Carol MacKenzie, manager of the waste diversion program, but there’s a strong chance other areas will follow suit.
Patrons should acknowledge the extra burden being taken on by the restaurants to keep their waste in check. The added responsibility might mean an extra hire – or will certainly keep employees hopping at peak times. Sorting has been in place for some time – recyclables, compostables, garbage – but even if 95 per cent of people sorting their trash are meticulous, it takes little to contaminate an entire bag. And re-sorting the stuff after the fact – well, probably no need to go into that.
The prospect raises another question: what about garbage containers outside the restaurants? Travellers typically toss in garbage from their cars, suggesting the same unacceptable mix.
Over the years, some have oddly enough blamed the outlets for trash. But this is consumer-driven – what folks demand. Since the first establishment somewhere offered a coffee to go, the trend has snowballed into today’s people always in a hurry, needing their food and drinks on the fly.
It’s hard to envision a future where the majority of people will sit down for fast meals – with primarily washable, reusable dishes – but this present program is a highly visible reminder of the need to be meticulous in sorting waste.