Watch­dog trashes re­cy­cling re­sults

Ottawa trail­ing other ma­jor cities in waste di­ver­sion

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­ twit­

The City of Ottawa’s re­cy­cling rates in 2015 were garbage com­pared to the pro­vin­cial av­er­age, a grass­roots waste watch­dog says.

Waste Watch Ottawa ex­am­ined di­ver­sion data sub­mit­ted to the Re­source Pro­duc­tiv­ity and Re­cov­ery Au­thor­ity and saw that the city di­verted 42.5 per cent of its waste in 2015, com­pared to the pro­vin­cial av­er­age of 47.7 per cent.

Ottawa’s di­ver­sion rate was lower com­pared to other large On­tario mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties like York Re­gion (62.7), Hal­ton Re­gion (56.8), Toronto (51.6), Hamil­ton (46.8) and Peel Re­gion (44).

Waste Watch Ottawa says it’s a “wor­ry­ing sign” that the city’s di­ver­sion rate dropped from the 45 per cent recorded in 2014.

The group pub­lished a re­port on its analysis this week.

“The City of Ottawa looks for­ward to re­view­ing the re­port and its rec­om­men­da­tions,” said Mar­i­lyn Journeaux, the city’s di­rec­tor of solid waste ser­vices.

Not ev­ery­one has bought into the green bin pro­gram, even af­ter seven years in op­er­a­tion. The city says about 51 per cent of res­i­dents are us­ing green bins for or­ganic waste. On top of that, peo­ple are still pack­ing garbage bags with re­cy­clable ma­te­rial the city could sell to off­set its waste costs.

Even more shock­ing, when the city looked at the kind of garbage peo­ple were leav­ing at the curb­side in a 2014-15 au­dit, it dis­cov­ered that 52 per cent of the trash bound for the dump could have been di­verted to re­cy­cling pro­grams or spe­cial waste dis­posal sites.

Res­i­dents did a de­cent job of re­cy­cling glass, but they weren’t hit­ting the city’s waste plan tar­gets when it came to pa­per, me­tals, plas­tics, or­gan­ics and yard waste.

The city is spend­ing peanuts on re­cy­cling ed­u­ca­tion com­pared to other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, says Dun­can Bury of Waste Watch Ottawa.

“I think get­ting the aware­ness out is step No. 1,” Bury said Friday.

Ottawa’s di­ver­sion rate im­proved to 44 per cent by the end of 2016, but Bury said the city should be spend­ing more of its bud­get on pro­mot­ing mu­nic­i­pal re­cy­cling pro­grams.

Bury said mak­ing home­own­ers use clear garbage bags so col­lec­tors can in­spect the con­tents could be an ef­fec­tive way to po­lice re­cy­cling.

While there is still 28 years worth of ca­pac­ity at the mu­nic­i­pal dump on Trail Road, the group says the time could be ex­tended if more peo­ple use the re­cy­cling pro­grams.

Garbage and re­cy­cling is­sues aren’t as prom­i­nent as they once were at city hall. Not long ago coun­cil was wrestling with start­ing an or­gan­ics pro­gram — but that ended up be­ing con­tro­ver­sial be­cause of the bru­tal con­tract the city signed with Or­ga­world.

The city seemed to be on the verge of a ma­jor break­through in mu­nic­i­pal waste pro­cess­ing when it was work­ing with Plasco to es­tab­lish a “plas­mafi­ca­tion” plant that would su­per­heat trash, re­duc­ing it to rock­like ma­te­rial that could be used in con­struc­tion, while pow­er­ing elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tors.

How­ever, Plasco couldn’t af­ford to build a com­mer­cial fa­cil­ity. The com­pany filed for cred­i­tor pro­tec­tion, and coun­cil trashed the deal.

There hasn’t been much chat­ter about garbage and re­cy­cling at the en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee. There used to be quar­terly and semi-an­nual up­dates on waste and re­cy­cling, but coun­cil voted to stop re­ceiv­ing the re­ports in March 2016.

Com­pared to pre­vi­ous coun­cil terms, the lid hasn’t ex­actly been blown off the garbage file as politi­cians seem con­tent with the sta­tus quo.

Waste Watch Ottawa wants the city to restart its waste plan­ning and cre­ate ini­tia­tives in time for the 2019 bud­get process.


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