Waste Management – Diversion or Aversion?

I attended the Infrastructure Services Committee Meeting at the Sunshine Coast Regional District on May 17.   Agenda items included water (a future blog post on that topic) and an update on the 2011 Solid Waste Management Plan, specifically on waste diversion.  (Full agenda here)    Waste diversion has essentially flatlined for a number of years, and is falling far behind the five year goals set in the SWMP.  The Plan Monitoring Advisory Committee has become defunct in recent months with no renewal of the SWMP in process.

With the Sunshine Coast’s landfill nearing capacity at an alarming rate, more must be done to combat the flow of refuse locally.

When you couple our community’s stagnant waste diversion rate with shocking images in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic: Planet or Plastic? ,  you can see the global crisis we are facing.     The issue is dedicated to bringing awareness and inspiring action in regards to the discarded plastics catastrophe our world is facing.    The magazine has also pledged to discontinue its use of a plastic wrap for new issues.  Hopefully, other publications will follow suit.   Or maybe consumers will choose to read the electronic versions instead.

And it ultimately comes down to choice – as individuals, we can say no to the single-use items or be prepared with reusable items.   Reducing what we consume and reusing what we already have goes a long way to combating the waste we generate.   Aversion to single use negates the need to divert.   

Local Governments need to take a strong leadership role; they are on the front lines of waste management and can be the most effective agents for change.   Saskatoon has recently banned plastic bags (including plastic film wraps, food packaging and bread bags) from recycling bins as it’s becoming increasingly difficult for their contracted disposal companies to find markets accepting these types of plastics.  There is a concern that these soft plastics will now hit the landfill even with an aim of 70% solid waste diversion by 2023.     Victoria has gone further, banning businesses from offering single use bags starting July 1, 2018.  They’re being tested on the legality of the ban by the Canadian Plastics Association.   Many other jurisdictions are watching with interest to see how the courts will rule, but Vancouver has chosen to move ahead with a more comprehensive ban including plastic straws and foam take-out containers for food and beverages.

Hopefully, the leadership taken by Victoria and Vancouver city councils will be followed by other municipal leaders.  We are out of time for planning, we need action.

***
What can you do?
  • VOTE.  BC Municipal Elections are coming up this October.   Find candidates that will take lead your community to find better solid waste solutions.     Or put your name forward as a candidate.   That’s what I’m doing – running in Halfmoon Bay for Sunshine Coast Regional District Director.
  • There are small things we can do to cut out the use of disposable products in our daily routines with planning ahead and reusing items already in our homes.   Here’s a great article showcasing some small steps to start you on the plastic-free path.
  • Zero Waste Canada has some great resources to help with your choices:
  • And if you do have to use and recycle, here’s our local SCRD Recycling Brochure
Links from above:

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