Consumer 'purchasing power' changes will improve local recycling initiatives

Saugeen Shores Coun. John Rich, chair of Bruce Solid Waste Recycling (BASWR) updated town councillors June 10 on the need for consumers to change pruchasi habits - like not buying products in tetra packs or plastics - to improve local recycling efforts.

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A change in consumer purchasing habits – not buying products in Tetra packs and plastic that are not recycled in Bruce County – will make a “big difference” in increasing diversion rates to prolong the life of the landfill, according to Saugeen Shores Coun. John Rich.

In a June 10 update to Saugeen Shores councillors, Rich discussed BASWR diversion rates, costs to consumers, legislation and next steps.

BASWR officials are justifiably proud of its programs that diverted from landfill all but two per cent of the 5,341 tonnes of waste collected in Blue Boxes and depots last year, compared to 40 per cent in some GTA municipalities.

Rich said BASWR’s annual $26.87 per household recycling cost for Saugeen Shores and other communities is “great”, but cautioned that putting something in a recycling bin does “not turn it into a rainbow – it doesn’t become magical.”

With dwindling markets for some recycling commodities, including scrap plastic that has been taken by China in the past, Rich said when people call him to ask why tetra packs and some plastics are not accepted in Blue Bins, he suggests they change their buying habits.

“If you don’t want a tetra packs, or plastic to end up in the landfill – don’t buy them,” Rich said, adding switching to glass containers instead of milk and juice cartons will make a “big difference” in diversion.

Saugeen Shores responded to residents demands for more recycling with a new film plastic recycling program that could divert 7,000 kilograms of plastic from landfill annually.

With the recent move by Rowland’s Independent Grocer in Port Elgin to switch to paper from plastic bags, Coun. Dave Myette said consumers would foster recycling changes and retailers will follow.

“I’ve heard also that another grocer in town, in Southampton who is looking at reusable glass bottles,” Myette said, adding the best way to go about increasing diversion is to make a business case with retailers.

Deputy-mayor Don Matheson said manufacturers should pick up more recycling costs, and favours energy-from-waste initiatives and things like grinding tires into pellets to use to repair roads.

Matheson said there’s not much incentive for consumers to buy 14-cent paper bags when plastic bags are five cents, so they must look at the way products are packaged.

“We also have to get that message out to businesses. They also have to take ownership of the products they create” Matheson said.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau applauded BASWR’s “outstanding” recycling program, noting it does not “take stuff to feel good and pretend they are doing something for our landfill and environment.”

Blue Boxes do not magically turn materials into reclclables and careful adherence to the list of  accepted recycling items would help diversion by residential and business customers in Saugeen Shores, Kincardine, Wiarton, Lucknow and Walkerton and Hepworth who are serviced by Bruce Area Solid Waste Recycling ( BASWR.)

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