When t comes to recycling, it would appear that Saugeen Shores is ahead of the curve in the region.
Councilor John Rich brought forward a visual lesson in recycling at Monday night’s Council meeting. According to Rich, the cost of recycling is $28 per year per household and Bruce Area Solid Waste Recylcing (BASWR) currently has $2M in reserves for recycling expansion. “Currently the recycling program is successful in Saugeen Shores and it makes a profit each year.” He pointed out that larger municipalities can pay upwards of $400 per year per household.
“We are fortunate here in Saugeen Shores in that we have ‘curb-side’ sorting,” said Rich. “The problem today is commodity destinations. As everyone knows, China is no longer accepting as many items that are considered recyclable. The amount of recycled items is consumer driven.”
Alberta has, in fact, suspended its recycling program as there are no longer destinations taking the items.
BASWR was started as an initiative of Saugeen Shores and all the communities in Bruce County now take part. According to Rich, the big plus for BASWR is that “a lot of garbage is diverted from our landfill. This year, 5,341 tons of garbage was diverted. Because of this program, only two per cent (2%) of all the recycling ends up in the landfill.”
Rich said that larger urban centres such as Toronto or Kitchener-Waterloo can have as high as 30 to 40 per cent of all the material that goes into single-source recycling bins ends up in landfills.
In Saugeen Shores, all sorting is done at the curb. “This is a good message for curb-side recycling but is one that will probably change in the future due to problems in finding markets. There is presently a recycling method for plastic bags that turns them into pellets that can be used but if there comes a time when there is no market, then those plastic bags are no recyclable.”
“One thing that we can really do is to change our buying habits,” said Rich. “For instance, we are often asked why we don’t take milk cartons or juice tetra-packs. My response is that we are concerned about sending these to landfill. If you don’t want to send these to landfill, then don’t buy them. There are options. Buy juice in a large plastic container and pour it into a glass or thermos. The large container is recyclable. We have to remember that as consumers we can make a big difference through our buying power.”
Councilor Cheryl Grace raised that point that metal is the most lucrative recyclable, particularly when it comes to pop and beer cans. “There are some municipalities that are accepting no other metals other than these.”
Rich said that BASWR accepts all metal cans but the pop and beer cans are the ones that are the most lucrative. “We also accept glass but we have to point out that glass and paper must be kept separate as it can impact equipment. Glass is also accepted at a loss and there is no longer a market for newspaper or other paper. People often have the perception that everything can go into the recycling blue bins but we have to be really conscious that it can’t.”
Rich went on to say that as a society, we are going to have to make big changes in the future. Councilor Dave Myette agreed saying that consumers and their choices drive retail. Deputy Mayor Don Matheson also stressed that businesses and manufacturers are also going to have to take ownership for packaging and perhaps fees for recycling and what is happening in our landfills. “Perhaps, one day, we will have a machine that grinds up glass and ships it to a plant for use in asphalt or perhaps have an incinerator that can take items and create energy at the same time.”
Some local grocers are, in fact, moving toward answering those consumers who want to have choices.
Rowland’s Independent Grocer for instance has, in fact, made the move toward giving the customer a choice between paper grocery bags and plastic. While the paper bags are 14 cents each and the plastic are 5 cents each, the plastic bags are being phased out.
At Southampton Foodland, with a deposit milk can be purchased in old-fashioned glass bottles that are then returnable for the deposit.
Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that one of the town’s major assets is the landfill site and is one that must be preserved. “Every person in the community has to pull his or her weight to ensure that it happens by making choices in their own lives and by using our outstanding recycling program. You can throw whatever you want into the blue box and feel good but BASWR will not take something just to make a homeowner feel good.”