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Archive for recycling

British Columbians and Nova Scotians are Canada’s best recyclers

Nova Scotia might have the country’s highest diversion rate as a province (44%) but British Columbians recycle more as individuals.

An analysis of the latest data from Statistics Canada shows that the average British Columbian diverted 377 kilograms of waste in 2016. That’s 60 kilograms more than the average Nova Scotian and twice as much as people living in Saskatchewan. The average Canadian diverted 263 kilograms of waste, the equivalent of about one heavy (50 pound) suitcase a month.Diversion rate per person by province

The “waste” includes used paper, plastic, glass, metals, textiles, organics (food scraps), electronics, tires, white goods such as fridges and appliances, and construction, renovation and demolition materials like wood, drywall, doors, windows and wiring.

There are some interesting differences between Canada’s two waste diversion leaders. Nova Scotia’s population is quite concentrated within a relatively small area compared to British Columbia, which would seem to give the waste diversion advantage to Nova Scotia. BC’s recycling results, on the other hand, are spread more broadly and thus less reliant on major tonnage diversion coming from just one or two material streams.

For example, while paper and organics are the major material streams diverted in each province, there’s a marked difference in their relative contribution to the provincial total. In British Columbia, paper recycling and organics diversion represent about one-third of the total each. But in Nova Scotia, organics recovery alone is responsible for over half (53%) of the province’s resulting diversion. Without that substantial diversion of organics, Nova Scotia would slip down the provincial rankings.

The data thus indicate opportunities for improvement as well: for BC to boost its organics diversion (it’s currently ranked  third behind Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in organics diversion per person) and for Nova Scotia to focus more attention on collecting materials other than organics (for example, it’s ranked sixth out of the eight reporting provinces in diverting paper).

Of course, better data, particularly on the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC & I) side would help. We believe that the diversion of paper in Nova Scotia is significantly higher than the Statistics Canada numbers indicate.

Diversion Rate for BC and NS

(This is the latest in a series of recent blogs on waste and recycling data in Canada. Here are the links to the others: Good news and bad news in dumping of waste (October 11, 2018); Where’s the garbage coming from? More and more from homes (February 19, 2019); Canada’s waste diversion rate slowly inches higher (February 28, 2019).

 

John Mullinder

John Mullinder, Executive Director, PPEC - Regular posts on environmental and sustainability issues impacting the Canadian paper packaging industry

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Pot calling the kettle black?

The Toronto Star ran a front page story over the weekend lambasting Ontario’s tire stewardship body (OTS) for spending  “thousands of dollars on wine tasting, meals at fine restaurants, a boat cruise, luxury hotels, and donations to political (parties).” The newspaper huffed in its “little piggies at the trough” depiction that OTS was operating without public oversight.

Now we are no fan of unreasonable administrative expenses. And if, in fact, they were unreasonable in this case, then Waste Diversion Ontario, which is supposed to monitor OTS, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to whom the WDO ultimately reports, should do something about it.

But it seems to us that the Star’s real target, clear in previous articles it has carried, is the existence of provincial industry funding organisations (IFOs) themselves. These, it recently thundered, are essentially “industry cartels” that pluck “tens of millions of dollars from consumers’ pockets every year.”

TorontoStar

The Star should tread carefully here because what applies to the IFOs for tires and used electronics equally applies to Blue Box materials, including newspapers. In the case of tires, the tire producers and retailers pay for the recycling of tires. In the case of newspapers, the newspaper publishers contribute to an industry Blue Box fund that helps pay for the costs of recycling newspapers.

In the case of tires, the fees are passed on to the consumers of those tires. In the case of newspapers, we assume that the newspaper stewards pass along their fees to the consumers of newspapers as part of their costs. The Star claims that OTS made contributions to political parties. We don’t know whether Stewardship Ontario (the Blue Box IFO) has made similar political contributions, but we do know that individual newspaper publishers, including the Star, frequently throw their editorial weight behind one political party or another.

The only difference that we see, then, between how the newspaper publishers and the tire retailers manage the costs of their respective recycling programs, is that the tire fee is visible at retail. Tire consumers see what they are being charged for. Newspaper consumers, on the other hand, do not see any of their Blue Box eco-fees highlighted. They are hidden, but still passed on (or “plucked from consumers’ pockets”, as the Star would say). In the interests of public transparency and editorial integrity then, we would suggest that before the Star rushes out to loudly denounce eco-fees and IFOs again, that perhaps it should check what’s going on in its own house first. It would be nice to know the difference between the plucker and the plucked.

 

John Mullinder

John Mullinder, Executive Director, PPEC - Regular posts on environmental and sustainability issues impacting the Canadian paper packaging industry

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