Watchdog trashes recycling results
Ottawa trailing other major cities in waste diversion
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.