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EDITORIAL: Reduction is key to the plan

Archeologists learn a lot about ancient peoples by looking at whats in their garbage. Flash to the 21st century and we see communities doing what they can to keep things from the trash heap – very much with future interests in mind.

Pictou County Solid Waste has made another advance in eliminating material that would otherwise be shipped to the landfill. The latest is separating wallboard – leftover pieces, with no screws, nails or paint – and diverting that to join the compostable materials.

Thats the stuff. Something thats basically paper and a bunch of limestone – its a perfect addition to a product that ultimately goes back as a soil amendment.

The wallboard – more commonly known to many as drywall, or Gyproc – up until now went in with landfill materials.

Earlier this year, PCSW made another change to cut down on materials considered strictly garbage by informing residents they can now put cat litter in their green bin along with other compostables.

Another recent move was finding a market for Styrofoam, in a company that recycles it into a brand new product – again, keeping a bulky material out of the landfill by including it in blue-bag pickup.

Step by step were seeing welcome progress on this file, and Pictou County Solid Waste merits congratulations on their efforts to limit waste and educate the public about it.

Its easy in a household or place of business to throw things out and forget about it, once tossed its someone elses problem. But thats not at all the case, this is a collective issue, affecting residents sometimes in a very direct way.

If you think about stuff just being hauled off to the landfill once its out of the house, think again.

Waste from Pictou County is trucked to the second generation landfill in Guysborough County.

Many will recall the detailed effort that went into the siting of more stable landfills around Nova Scotia more than 20 years ago. No longer would the dump somewhere outside of town be permitted. Locating a suitable spot for a safe, secure landfill involved costly engineering and mapping and analysis of geological features and soil makeup.

Add to that the inevitable debate about the location, particularly from people living in or near the communities close to a site held up as a candidate. Think about it, not many people want a landfill – even a modern, more secure version – in their backyard.

That means that making the current ones serviceable for as long as possible is in the interests of all – communities, taxpayers, the environment.

Nova Scotia has been noted for making good strides in dealing with waste. Pictou County has always performed well, setting targets for waste reduction and meeting them – all this while the occasional municipality still finds proper separation a bit of a learning curve.

Its all part of a collective effort, aided by continual education on proper sorting and changes to the system. By following it carefully we all benefit.

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