A lot of us do our due diligence in disposing of our garbage: trash in black bags, paper and plastic in blue boxes — and so on.
However, at an educational session at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library last week, attendees learned that how we toss our trash doesn’t always reflect where it ends up.
Only 25 per cent of the waste generated in the Niagara region is properly recycled, with the remaining 75 per cent going to the landfill, according to data from Walker Industries.
The library’s first Learn & Live session of the season, “Where Your Green Bin Goes,” shed some light on how NOTLers can reduce the waste they produce, along with the role of Walker Industries in waste management.
Darren Fry, project director at Walker Industries, explained that much less waste is created at home than at places like restaurants and hotels.
In fact, more of what gets tossed out from residents’ homes does end up going into blue, green and grey bins at waste management facilities, with 60 per cent of trash being recycled or composted and 40 per cent ending up in landfills.
Comparatively, in commercial settings, other factors mean less ends up getting recycled and more ends up in the landfill, Fry said.
“Even though we’re doing really good at home, the reality is we have gone to a restaurant, or to a baseball game, or to the theatre, or even to our places of work where things come packaged,” he explained. “Not many offices or restaurants recycle: it’s a cost of business.”
That’s why the province is looking to place the onus on manufacturers, rather than consumers, to create products that can, indeed, be recycled — a model called “extended producer responsibility,” Fry told the audience at the library.
“Say you buy a shampoo bottle from the manufacturer,” Fry said. “The manufacturer of that shampoo is now responsible for the recycling of that.”
“In terms of designing that bottle for easy recycling, I call it designing for the environment.”
On a personal level, some steps can be taken to optimize the disposal of renewable and compost waste.
Fry and fellow Walker Industries employee Lisa Immel gave Learn & Live attendees some notes on the not-so-obvious tricks that can help residents get the most out of their green bins.
“Don’t tie your compostable plastic bag in a knot, because the film is grilled enough to break down, but that knot won’t,” Fry said.
He suggests simply pinching the bag, plugging your nose and disposing of your compost.
Many people aren’t aware that glass is not compostable and is often removed during the recycling process, Immel added.
Because the Niagara region, including Niagara-on-the-Lake, attracts so many tourists every day, Fry estimates that our waste production may be a bit higher than other municipalities.
“When we go out and go out to dinner we generate waste and we probably have more of that here because of hotel rooms and all of the other amenities that we offer,” Fry said.
This is an issue that will slowly resolve as we shift toward more renewable products from the start, he said.
“We’re seeing a change in mindset change from ‘This is a waste and we will charge people to give it to us,’ to, ‘It is now a resource and we will pay for it,'” Fry said.
“We will see restaurants, instead of a bill to get rid of food waste, they will get a cheque to get rid of their food waste.”
The Next Learn & Live at the library is Monday, Nov. 27 and focuses on dizziness and fall prevention.
Registration can be found on the NOTL Public Library’s website, notlpubliclibrary.org.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library’s most recent Learn & Live segment pointed out that only 25 per cent of the waste that we generate in the Niagara Region is properly recycled.
To avoid producing more waste for landfills, The Lake Report gathered some helpful tips from the presentation, as well as the Niagara Region website, on how to maximize your recycling from home.
- Throw your compost bags out without tying them
- Dispose of solid fats and grease in the compost bin
- Dispose of small amounts of liquid oils in the compost by absorbing with a paper towel, newspaper, kitty litter or sawdust, or freezing
- Bring large amounts of liquid oil to a drop-off facility
- Rinse all residue off of containers and plastics before placing them in your blue box
- Use compostable or paper garbage bags to help with the breakdown of your waste
- Throw waste directly into your kitchen catcher to optimize waste breakdown
- Throw plastic bags into the garbage
- Tie your compost bags in a knot before disposal
- Put glass in your compost bin
- Pour liquid oils down the drain
- Dispose of more than one litre of liquid oil in your compost
- Put a container or plastic in your blue bin without rinsing the residue
- Dispose of your compost in plastic bags
- Place all of your plastic bags inside one bigger bag to dispose of in your grey bin: remove ties and handles