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Garbage news

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trash cans

For whatever reason today there was a spate of news about garbage; here’s a summary.

Metro Vancouver is proceeding with its long-expected ban on organics for all sectors. Until now, only single-family residences were affected by the (poorly enforced) ban, put in place two years ago. Now garbage from residential towers will also be subject to the ban, as well as businesses and institutions. This should make a big reduction in the amount of rottable material now dumped in the landfills – material that generates the greenhouse gas methane, which even the best designed landfills can never completely catch. Very good news, overall – but the devil will be in the details, including enforcement. The Vancouver Sun has details on the initiative, as well as a sidebar on how environmentally-minded residents of a tower have already devised a plan to remove organics from their waste.

Also in today’s Sun, a very interesting article on how binners (aka, unlicensed recyclers) make a living out of recovering what others mindlessly throw out in the trash: clothes, video games, tools; there was even an ultrasound machine recovered once. Organisers of the market (in Pigeon Park) estimate that about $10,000 of revenue is generated every week.

The Sun also reported on the problems created by waste “leakage” out of Metro: haulers that take trash out of the jurisdiction to save on tipping fees (hello, Abbotsford!). As a result, Metro needs to compensate its private partner for the lack of potential. This may become a bigger problem as recycling improves, putting a dent in the amount that needs ultimate disposal; Metro is aiming for a full 80% recycling rate (as opposed to about 50% currently).

Still about garbage (in a way), and still in today’s Sun, a very compelling article on the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who creates large installations, including some famous ones out of garbage. There is a viewing of two movies that feature his work this evening at the Rio.

The Vancouver Observer has a nice recap of a presentation on incineration and recycling hosted by Metro earlier today. Dutch expert Herman Huisman mentioned that the European countries that have the highest rates of recycling (Belgium, Switzerland and Germany) all rely on incineration for what is left as garbage, recovering energy along the way.

“Waste-to-energy and recycling go hand to hand,” Huisman said. “Those countries that have no incineration have no recycling.”

Capping the news is a Slate article about incineration in Sweden (contrasting the easy going acceptance of waste-to-energy scheme by the Swedes, in contrast to American attitudes. The environmental e-zine Grist featured a profile of the article, well worth reading for its humorous slant.

What’s to conclude from all this?  Who knows – except that it shows that garbage is big news, and that it is more and more recognized as the resource it is – and that’s good news.

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Written by enviropaul

July 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm

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