Environmental crisis a reality

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Last week, we reported on a possible environmental crisis in North Grenville, when it was found that plastic bags in which feed and shavings are delivered, were no longer being collected for recycling in the municipality. At that point, the Municipality stated that the collection was ending because there was no longer a market for that particular kind of recycled plastic.

Last week, Vicky Stamison, the local resident who was investigating why her plastic was not being collected, discovered that, in fact, these bags had never been recycled, but had been redirected to the landfill for some time past. What’s more, by putting these bags out for recycling, residents have been in violation of a municipal by-law passed in 2009.

Literally tens of thousands of plastic bags are being sent to the landfill every month, in spite of a 2016 Ontario Act, the recently amended Waste Diversion Act to the Waste-Free Ontario Act. This requires “ministries, municipalities, producers and others to perform waste reduction and resource recovery activities in a manner that is consistent with those policies.”

Vicky was amazed that no public notice had been given that this material was not being recycled: “The Municipality is clearly unaware of what has been going on in RURAL North Grenville. For the last 15 years that I have lived here – since these two products were put on the market, I, and many other people, have put this type of plastic at the curbside and it has been picked up and CONTINUES TO THIS DAY to be picked up.”

The municipality has to renegotiate its contract with the recycling collectors next year, and Vicky thinks there needs to be some thought put into what the next contract will contain, and what questions need to be asked before the situation gets seriously out of hand.

  1. The surrounding municipalities of South Dundas and Edwardsburgh are picking up these plastics without issue. What are they doing that is different from North Grenville?
  2. Hire an intern – canvass the Universities for a student who is in an ecology program ideally or other science related program – students have a vested interest in their future.
  3. Research RURAL North Grenville and determine the RURAL need for setting up a separate stream for recycling feed and shavings plastics 4 and 5.
  4. Research companies in Ontario (and there are quite a number in Southern Ontario) that will take this plastic.
  5. Lobby. CFIA, the Provincial Government, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the feed and shavings companies, plastic bag suppliers.

It seems unfortunate that it took a private citizen to find out about this problem and do the research required to clarify the issues involved. Vicky points out, on North Grenville’s web pages for Recycling, there is no information or links indicating where rural North Grenville can send some of its plastics for recycling. However, woven plastic bags can be sent to Winchester.

When asked what the municipality is going to do about the problem, Vicky was told: “As stated above, at this time, North Grenville does not have a method for recycling this product based on current market conditions. I would suggest you talk to your provider and see if they can provide an alternative to landfill or a different packaging system”.

As Vicky rightly says: “This is as much North Grenville’s problem as it is mine. What are you going to do when the landfill site is full – I believe it is already in significant trouble. Buying up more land for a landfill site isn’t an option any more – no one wants to live next to a garbage dump no matter how well and expensively it is sealed up.”

More on this issue in future issues of the Times.

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