Bring your own bag
By Jenn Watt
Published June 12, 2018
Reducing single-use plastic has been dominating international news lately as troubling new information comes out about the amount of plastic in our oceans coupled with China’s shift away from buying recycling waste from the West.
The G7 Summit also tackled the issue, with five countries including Canada signing on to a plastics charter regarding single-use plastics including bags, cups and bottles. Along with Canada, France, the U.K., Germany and Italy have agreed to the voluntary charter, which some environmental groups say isn’t going far enough to protect the environment. The two countries that did not agree to join the charter: Japan and the United States.
Here in Haliburton we’ve begun to feel the effects of Chinese recycling policy change.
At Dysart et al’s environment and conservation committee meeting in April, councillors were presented with a letter from the company that handles the municipality’s recycling hauling and processing.
“The markets for commingled blue box containers has been falling continuously over the last several years and we have not been receiving any rebate but we now find ourselves in a position where we have to haul the material at our cost and pay a tipping fee at the processing facility,” wrote Shelley Fisher of Mid Ontario Disposal in a letter to the municipality.
“The markets for paper have also bottomed out. China has been the main market for waste paper for many years but they have been buying very little since summer 2017. When they do order a load from our Canadian broker, they reject any load that has any contamination,” the letter continued.
With costs going up and few fleshed out plans provincially or nationally for handling recyclables in the long term, the best solution is to reduce waste.
In P.E.I., a private member’s bill is on its way through the legislative process, which, if enacted, would ban plastic shopping bags. In the private sector, A&W and IKEA have pledged to make changes in the plastics they create.
Locally, we already see innovative solutions to reduce waste (not only plastics) both in public buildings and events and in the private sector.
One such initiative comes from the Rails End Gallery, which has recently purchased a water station, which will make its debut at Head Lake Park this weekend during the Trash and Treasure giant yard sale. The station will help keep the event’s participants hydrated and encourages people to bring their own reusable cups/mugs/bottles.
It takes a bit of forethought to change behaviour, but it really is doable. At a recent meeting of cottage association representatives, the word went out via email to the group: bring your own cup. We want this meeting to be zero waste. And people listened. The garbage can at the end of the meeting contained mostly napkins.
We can all make changes that reduce the waste we produce, even if it’s one cup at a time.