Curb­ing it in Car­bon­ear

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

For too long, re­cy­cling and the environment was not a pri­or­ity in New­found­land and Labrador, largely be­cause of this prov­ince’s scat­tered pop­u­la­tion and strug­gling econ­omy. It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see this is slowly chang­ing, though we still have a long way to go.

The lat­est step in the right di­rec­tion came to us last week from the Town of Car­bon­ear.

Start­ing next spring, it will be manda­tory for home­own­ers in the town to sep­a­rate re­cy­clables from their reg­u­lar house­hold garbage. It’s all part of a new curb­side re­cy­cling pro­gram that will be­gin May 1. The ini­tia­tive will put Car­bon­ear at the fore­front in the Trinity-con­cep­tion re­gion in ef­forts to re­duce the amount of trash be­ing dumped at the re­gional waste fa­cil­ity at Robin Hood Bay in St. John’s.

Other towns, in­clud­ing Bay Roberts, have been talk­ing about in­tro­duc­ing a sim­i­lar pro­gram, but so far that’s all it is.

Some have ques­tioned the vi­a­bil­ity of curb­side re­cy­cling, but the numbers speak for them­selves. It costs more than $ 65 in tip­ping fees to bring a tonne of garbage to Robin Hood Bay. The cost for re­cy­clables is $20. For a town the size of Car­bon­ear, tip­ping fees can add up to a sub­stan­tial bill for tax­pay­ers. It only makes sense to di­vert as much ton­nage as pos­si­ble from the dump, and we tip our hats to mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in Car­bon­ear for hav­ing the courage to take the plunge.

But it won’t work un­less the town takes an ag­gres­sive ap­proach to its mar­ket­ing and en­force­ment, en­sur­ing that cit­i­zens are ed­u­cated on the dos and don’ts and the ben­e­fits of re­cy­cling. The City of St. John’s had its prob­lems when it in­tro­duced curb­side re­cy­cling last fall, and we’re sure there will be hur­dles in Car­bon­ear.

But res­i­dents must sup­port the con­cept be­cause it’s in their best in­ter­est, for a num­ber of rea­sons, and not just the town’s bot­tom line.

First of all, the prac­tices of the past can­not be tol­er­ated to­day. It’s im­per­a­tive that we ad­just our habits and think­ing when it comes to the environment. We are the care­tak­ers of this planet for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and it’s our job to keep it pris­tine and liv­able and pro­tected from the haz­ardous and ir­re­spon­si­ble prac­tices of the past.

It’s time that we start catch­ing up to the stan­dards be­ing set by other prov­inces in Canada, and we can no longer ig­nore the im­pend­ing threats of cli­mate change. We all have a moral duty to re­spect and pro­tect this land.

We live in one of the most rugged, scenic and wel­com­ing places on the planet, and we should show our grat­i­tude by act­ing re­spon­si­bly. We can still en­joy vast stretches of wilder­ness, which is home to a di­verse col­lec­tion of plants and an­i­mals. Our cold, clean oceans are still a mar­ket­ing tool for fish com­pa­nies, and out­door en­thu­si­asts from through­out the con­ti­nent con­tinue to come here for the hunt­ing, fish­ing and other forms of re­cre­ation.

But too many of us con­tinue to use our back­roads and pits as a dump­ing ground for con­struc­tion ma­te­rial and other garbage. It must be stopped. It’s no stretch to say that for gen­er­a­tions, this prov­ince’s waste man­age­ment prac­tices have been shame­ful and crude.

Not long ago, this prov­ince had 240 land­fills, most of which were very crude “dumps” where any­thing and every­thing, in­clud­ing haz­ardous waste, was dis­carded with­out a sec­ond thought. That num­ber has been re­duced dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years as we make the tran­si­tion to re­gional “su­per dumps” and a small num­ber of land­fills.

It’s part of an ef­fort to cut in half the amount of garbage go­ing into land­fills by 2020.

It ap­pears the Town of Car­bon­ear will soon be play­ing a valu­able role in reach­ing that goal. That’s a good thing.

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