The facts are still unclear, but it seems as though we will soon have thousands of heavy-duty plastic bags being diverted into our landfill site every month. Until recently, the plastic bags that are used to contain animal feed, shavings for use in stables, etc., were collected under the Municipality’s recycling program. However, a couple of weeks ago, a recycling truck refused to take the bags, claiming that he had been told not to include them in his route any longer.
Vicky Stamison, whose operation uses 45 bags of shavings and 18 bags of feed a month, was upset that material that is clearly labelled as recyclable, and which is on the municipality’s list of acceptable plastic, would now be collected as solid waste garbage and sent to the landfill.
As she points out, Vicky’s is a small operation compared to many of the stables and other users of these bags in North Grenville, and the idea that thousands of these recyclable bags would not be taken in future poses a serious environmental problem.
Karen Dunlop, Director of Public Works for the Municipality of North Grenville, investigated the situation and reported to Vicky that: “We have received the response from our Material Recycle facility. They have indicated that although the bags are stamped as recyclable unfortunately there is no current market and not accepted at the Recycle facility and therefore not included in the municipal recycle program. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
The warning about the danger of large quantities of polyethylene plastic ending up in the ground moved Vicky to contact various dealers in feed and shavings to find out how many such bags are sold in North Grenville every month, and the possible statistics make unpleasant reading. Two local suppliers each empties a 50′ trailer of shavings every month. H&I and GT Enterprises empty small warehouses of animal feed multiple times a month.
There are two important issues at play here. First of all, these are recyclable products and are clearly marked as such. It is hard to know what is meant by the statement that “there is no current market” for the plastic, considering the quantity of bags being used up each month, just in this area. To date, there has been no indication that the municipality has any plans to deal with the issue, assuming it considers this an environmental issue in our “Green and Growing” community.
The second issue is the lack of publicity. If the decision has been made to cease recycling these bags, why have residents not been informed and told to stop putting them out for the recycling trucks? Has any final decision about this actually been made at any level? Just to confuse matters further, in spite of Karen’s clear statement that the plastic is “not included in the municipal recycle program”, it seems some drivers are continuing to collect the bags on some weeks.
Vicky is continuing to delve into this issue, trying to find out precisely what the procedures are now. If, as seems to be the case, plastic bags clearly marked with the recycle symbol, both 4 and 5 categories, are no longer to be accepted by the recycle facility used by the municipality, will an alternative facility be found? Is there, as Vicky suggests, a potential business to be established, possibly at the Kemptville Campus, to handle this material? CleanFarms has a plastic recycling collection centre in Winchester; perhaps they could handle this material?
Until the actual situation today is clarified, nothing can be done to find a solution to a potentially serious environmental problem in North Grenville.