You can make a difference
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 6, 2019|
Garbutt Disposal’s decision to stop processing mixed paper in Minden Hills shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
There isn’t a market for the stuff.
Company owner Jim Garbutt said they lost $3,000 on one load alone. They picked it up from around town. They processed it at their Lochlin facility. They loaded it into a 53-foot trailer. They sent it down south. It got as far as Lindsay. There it sat for two weeks while markets were sought. None were found.
The situation is looking slightly better for corrugated cardboard but at the moment Garbutt said they are taking a loss, of about $15 per ton. They’ll see how it goes over the summer but if it doesn’t improve, they’re getting out of that business, too.
The situation for plastics isn’t great either. If you watched The National last week, you would have seen Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin open a shipping container of so-called recyclables from Canada, only to condemn the load as garbage and say they’re sending it back. The same thing has happened in the Philippines. In addition, China has continued its clamp down on so-called dirty loads.
The worldwide crash in the recycling market has caused pileups of garbage for larger Canadian municipalities, led to hefty extra costs and the risk of losing revenue. On a smaller scale, it is being felt in Haliburton County.
When it comes to China, they buy about two-thirds of North America’s recyclables and for the past 18 months or so have demanded that loads cannot exceed 0.5 per cent of contamination. By contrast, the township of Minden Hills, for example, deems a dirty load to have six per cent or more recyclable or divertible material inside of it before charging a fee. So, it seems obvious that municipalities here, and residents, have to do a better job of diverting and recycling.
To that end, we’ll be interested to see what the County of Haliburton’s new climate change plan will entail. We expect one of the first orders of the day will be to divert material away from the county’s landfills. Dysart has discussed reducing single-use plastics and putting in water stations. It’s time for the other three municipalities to do the same. While some would say local government has to eliminate plastic bags in the county, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. The City of Toronto was unsuccessful in banning plastic bags in 2012.
Nor do our municipal politicians have much clout when it comes to what multi-nationals are doing with packaging. However, they can lobby our MP and MPP to take Haliburton concerns to Toronto and Ottawa respectively.
But, really, a lot of it comes down to you and I. The consumer. Some of us still buy palettes of single use plastic water bottles. Some of us use those little plastic bags for our fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. Some of us get takeaway food and drink containers that are not environmentally-friendly. Some of us still stick plastic straws in our drinks. We do this despite the fact there are more and more environmentally-friendly options out there. If we can reduce, reuse and recycle better at home, it will have an impact locally. We can all make a difference.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.