waste diversion or responsibility diversion?

Aurora has not adopted a bag-tag system for garbage yet, but don’t be surprised if it is suggested by those at town hall that enjoy phoning it in.

Scott Johnston speculated on how the implementation of such a waste diversion effort would play out in town on page 5 of the July 15th 2008 edition of the Auroran. You can read it here:
http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?wpfb_dl=521

The push to roll “Clear Garbage bags” on a volunteer basis was thankfully shot down for its outright absurdity. The fact that the town was brazen enough to hire a contractor to push GLAD branded products with the intent to double bag waste as a way to be environmentally responsible just added insult to injury.

Now compost bins, which one would assume those that live where such a bin is appropriate and can be used without creating a range of other issues has likely already been explored by residents.

Besides this level of diversion seems redundant given that the Region encourages collection of green waste through it’s flawed and poorly implemented green Bin program.

It seems like there is so little innovation happening at the staff level I’m happy to hear councilors like Sandra Humfreys speak up and say : “There are so many other things we can work on with our staff and knowledge out there in terms of where it is going.”

Clr. Thompsons’ remarks captured in the March 18th Auroran here:
http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=10106 also do a lot to refuse the blind acceptance of whatever staff throws their way. Something Clr. Abel seems to be more than comfortable in doing.

The failed “Clear Glad Garbage Bag” program pitched for Aurora was 100% a matter of shaming.

It showed little to no leadership.

If there was “value in how well this works in Markham” how was that quantified, outside a marginal diversion rate which incorporates energy from incineration. A measure that the Province does not recognize BTW.

It is the last statement that is the most disconcerting:

“There is resistance at first, but like anything, once it is employed, it works well and the results are significant.”

There’s a vast generalization, not too different from Mayor Dawe’s belief that anything can be accomplished if you throw enough money at it. The epitome of waste.

If Aurora is truly interested in seeking significant results in waste diversion they don’t need to employ methods that generate so much resistance when there is, as Clr. Humfreys pointed out, a large field of solutions that can be deployed to great effect.

It will however require work.

Back on March 5th of 2014 I met with the town’s Waste/Recycling Coordinator to better understand her take on the implementation of the failed Clear GLAD branded Bag Waste Program.

She confirmed a couple inconsistencies I saw in targeting residential collection.

One was that waste collection from town parks and street-scapes would not go clear bag.

That’s right, all the public furniture designed to collect the town’s public waste would not be subject to clear bag scrutiny. Hence the photo included with this post.

She also confirmed that the bags used for the annual anti-litter day would also not go clear bag.
Although reading about recent decisions made in Guelph that may have more to do with matters
regarding liability: http://wellingtonadvertiser.com/index.cfm?page=detail&itmno=11757

The purpose of my meeting was not just to question particulars about the Clear Bag program and give her a heads up about the resistance that it will face but understand exactly what other waste diversion opportunities were being considered at the staff level.

Particularly ones that centered around re-use.

I asked about the town considering the adoption of a Curbside Giveaway Day like they do in Newmarket: http://www.newmarket.ca/en/townhall/garbagerecycling.asp

Here’s a summary of how that works:

Simply place unwanted items at your curb between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. marked “FREE” to invite residents to help themselves to your disposed goods. All articles must be removed from the curb by 6 p.m.

I was told the town had explored this previously but abandoned it because it couldn’t communicate effectively with residents.

No surprise there.

Another area that seemed ripe for exploration was how the town handles its e-waste capture.

In a January post from last year I commented how the town refused to accept a great deal of items at its e-waste event: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/bring-out-your-dead/

Wouldn’t you want to maximize the opportunity and have residents bring their waste to a town site and capture the greatest amount of waste, including appliances and batteries, then sort appropriately, allow
for re-use and then deliver the remainder to each stream?

I always thought it was strange that the town’s e-waste efforts were all one-way and did not encourage re-use.

A rather exclusionary approach given what happened at the GreenLiving Show held in Toronto last weekend http://www.greenlivingshow.ca/

They not only comped admission to the show by having visitors bring in their old electronics:

Organizers also advertised that they’ll have bins full of e-waste by the entrance and to help yourself to whatever you need.

100% diversion at 0 cost.

And free electronics to those seeking.

Makes The Aurora Home Show, on this weekend not just a lost opportunity but a walking contradiction of the principles of innovation and sustainability set out in the Town of Aurora’s Strategic Plan.

If there are a plethora of materials that cannot be picked up at the curb is the Town of Aurora doing all it can to educate on re-use?

After visiting Orrilia’s website and seeing how they network residents to local businesses I’m not convinced: http://www.orillia.ca/en/livinginorillia/Recycling-Tips.asp

What is also interesting is how Orrilia accommodates curbside collection of batteries, yes batteries the scurge to York’s incineration chain that some were claiming the only way to divert was through clear bags.

Pure and utter bullshit.

Given the new measures of Jan 1st of this year to not pick up e-waste and batteries as outlined in the January 14 Auroran here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=9490 Aurorans aren’t left with as many options as other municipalities for convenient diversion of these items.

Sure you can always truck your batteries over to the BestBuy at the far east of town:
http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/for-kids-environment.aspx#tab-1

But did you know that apparently in Milton residents can take dead batteries to their library for collection: http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2015/01/27/90-of-ontarians-arent-recycling-hazardous-lightbulbs

Halton has been diverting batteries for 10 years:
http://news.milton.halinet.on.ca/2508123/page/5?n=

And as for voluntary programs Halton launched one that actually makes sense.

It’s called the orange box and it looks like this:

Here’s a breakdown of their pilot project from back in 2012:
https://haltonrecycles.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/theres-a-new-box-in-halton-region-and-its-orange/

Aurorans resisted solutions of garbage shaming, and rightly so, not only because they were unconvinced that results would be as significant as some pedants claimed, but also because they completely failed to address the aspect of re-use which is being done elsewhere, and with significantly less resistance.

Environmentally the right thing for us to be doing is to think outside the bag and get down to work.

Are we going to be know as a town that is preoccupied with diverting our waste or our responsibility?

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