Weather…it happens. And if you live in Halton it is fair to say that we get and see it all. It may be due to the Niagara Escarpment or the big body of water we call Lake Ontario. It may also be a combination of both.
So what does any of this have to do with waste? Plenty.
On those windy days Halton receives many calls from residents regarding litter and debris that has blown out of their neighbour’s Blue Box. Waste Management staff are asked to make the litter stop somehow. So what can we do about it? What are the options?
We have looked at putting a “lid on it.” However, adding a lid to a Blue Box can result in the lid being blown away and can slow down the collectors as they have to remove lids from each home. Same thing can happen with nets. Switching to new recycling carts with lids would be costly — imagine the cost of distributing new carts to 150,000 households, and adding new collection vehicles that can service the carts. Plus, where would these households store their larger cart?
We have also been asked to allow the use of plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags are convenient (even though they tend to blow away on windy days) and are easier for crews to collect.
The problem occurs at the recycling facility. Additional equipment and labour would be required to break open plastic bags and separate the bags from the acceptable recyclable material. Due to its nature, plastic bags become easily caught in the equipment leading to breakdowns and stoppages, plus plastic bags also adhere (static cling) to metal and glass becoming difficult to separate, which degrades the quality and value of those products.
Using plastic bags for your recycling has a profound impact on the Waste Management program and the delivery of service. Not to mention, there’s an economic cost to buying all of these single-use bags which end up in the garbage creating more waste!
Most residents of Halton receive a newspaper delivered to the front door. Why not use some string to bundle and tie your newspapers, magazines, and fine paper together and place them on the top of the other items in your Blue Box. You will find that bundled and tied newspaper makes for a very good lid. How difficult is that? You can also place your Blue Box on top of one another. Remember, you don’t need to separate your papers and containers before placing them in the Blue Box. Fill the bottom with light material and the top with heavier material.
Each household in Halton can pick up an additional Blue Box at no charge once a year. If you generate a lot of recyclable material, take a little time to pick up an extra Blue Box — it is definitely worth it!
Halton residents are champion recyclers. Did you know 94% of residents are participating in the Blue Box program weekly?
The bottom line is this — when it comes to the weather and waste diversion, please, take a little extra time to prevent litter on windy days. Your neighbours will appreciate it.
If you have some additional tips on how you prevent litter on windy days, feel free to share them with me.
About this guest blogger:
I’m David Miles, the Manager of Waste Planning and Collection for Halton Region. Some call me the Chief Problem Solver. I am very proud of the success of our waste diversion programs in Halton and applaud the extra efforts of Halton residents and waste management staff who make it happen.