Part of a series examining waste management programs across Canada.
A Year of Celebration
In the early 1990s, PEI’s largest community landfill was nearing capacity, and a committee was struck to select a location to replace it. This committee determined that it was time for our Island to ‘rethink’ the way waste was handled. In 1994, Waste Watch, the “made-in-PEI” answer to waste diversion was developed. The program is based on a single premise — the source separation of the waste we create. It is a provincially regulated source-separation system which is mandatory for homes, businesses, and visitors.
Unlike other programs across the country, waste on PEI is managed on a provincial basis. It is administered by Island Waste Management Corporation (IWMC), a provincial crown corporation, which operates exclusively on the revenue received from users. No financial assistance is received from provincial or municipal levels of government.
Our Waste Watch Program has proven very successful, and through the efforts of Islanders has achieved some of the highest landfill diversion rates of any North American waste management system. Since the 1990s, we’ve been continuously learning. Over the past 20 years many changes have been implemented as technology has evolved and markets established for recyclables and other materials.
Mandatory sorting is the common thread across all sectors on the Island, and both the residential and commercial sectors are subject to the same sorting principles for recyclables, compostables and residual wastes. In addition to these streams, IWMC has established programs for hazardous wastes, white goods, electronics, metals, tires, cell phones, fluorescent bulbs, medications sharps and batteries.
Our small population of about 140,000 poses unique challenges that may not be experienced by our sister provinces. Finding sustainable markets for smaller volumes, especially within close proximity to PEI, can be quite a task. Add to this the challenge of securing local storage place until we’ve collected sufficient inventory for shipment. In addition, it is difficult to secure up-front capital costs for new diversion programs when the volume of any given material type is low compared to other jurisdictions. As an example, we are currently exploring diversion methods for the recycling of Styrofoam. To ship this product off Island without pre-processing is cost prohibitive, while the estimated volume generated by Islanders does not justify the purchase of specialized processing equipment.
IWMC provides collection services to households and has six geographically-located drop-off facilities where homeowners can drop off materials not collected at curb. The industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector, on the other hand, must either contract to have their material removed or self haul to an appropriate facility themselves. Homeowners are billed annually as a line item on their property tax bills, while commercial customers pay based on weight and material type.
Because our success hinges on proper sorting, considerable effort is given to ensure sorting levels are acceptable. This is accomplished in two succinct programs: monitoring of all incoming material by staff at our facilities, and inspection by collection drivers at homes and businesses. Material that is unacceptable is simply not taken. Information is left behind informing the customer why it was rejected. To ensure compliance at our final disposal facilities, all loads are inspected. Material that is not sorted properly is rejected on site, and the collection driver or customer has the option of removing it and resorting, or paying an additional disposal fee surcharge.
We here on PEI absolutely cherish our little green province with its gentle rolling hills, pastures, and pristine beaches. Our aim is to keep it green, clean, and beautiful. We are proud of our Waste Watch Program and thrilled with the participation efforts of Islanders and visitors. By working together, we know we can protect this amazing environment for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.
It is our commitment to continue to build on our 20-year success, to seek, explore and develop new programs and practices in an effort to divert even more. We believe we have so many reasons to celebrate in 2014.
About this guest blogger:
Gerry Moore was born in Charlottetown, PEI and received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Prince Edward Island. After graduation, Gerry worked for Irving Oil and its affiliated companies for several years before moving to a position with Prince Edward Island Business Development Inc. where he was responsible for attracting new businesses to PEI. In 2004 Gerry accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer with Island Waste Management Corporation. He resides in Charlottetown and is heavily involved in minor hockey, baseball, and soccer as a coach and manager. Gerry has also served as a volunteer firefighter and town councilor.