Is trash worth it?

The Coast - - THIS WEEK -

An open let­ter to Halifax city coun­cil, re­gard­ing an ecol­ogy au­dit of HRM’s garbage dis­posal sys­tem: My un­der­stand­ing is that HRM spends $340 mil­lion per year on garbage col­lec­tion and dis­posal—the sin­gle largest item in the city bud­get. When you add in the time and money spent by cit­i­zens fol­low­ing the (daunt­ingly com­plex) rules at their end, you have a cost that must ap­proach half a bil­lion dol­lars an­nu­ally. Is it worth it? What else could we do with that money? My opin­ion—and that’s what it is, an opin­ion— is that it is not worth it, even from the stand­point of purely eco­log­i­cal val­ues. Hu­man be­ings are fac­ing an ex­is­ten­tial crisis that comes from global warm­ing: There is no higher eco­log­i­cal pri­or­ity than deal­ing ag­gres­sively with this prob­lem. Keep­ing car­bon emis­sions down, re­mov­ing car­bon from the at­mos­phere and storm-proof­ing our pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture are all pri­or­i­ties that I rank well above the cur­rent ob­jec­tives of HRM garbage dis­posal policy. Here I sug­gest re­vi­sions. The goal should be to dis­pose of garbage in a con­ve­nient and ef­fec­tive way for all cit­i­zens, to en­cour­age vol­un­tary re­cy­cling, while cut­ting costs to, say, half the cost of the cur­rent pro­gram. The sav­ings would then be de­voted to higher-pri­or­ity eco­log­i­cal ob­jec­tives. Is this pos­si­ble? I don’t know: That’s why we need an ecol­ogy au­dit of HRM Garbage dis­posal policy.

Tom Vinci, Halifax

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