Part of a series examining waste management programs across Canada.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Manitoba is an interesting creature. Winnipeg is at least 10 hours from another major city (Calgary) and at least a day’s drive from Vancouver or Toronto. Secluded and cold. But Winnipeggers are a hearty bunch.
Being so isolated, we are often a bit behind other large cities and do not have access to recycling markets. Manitoba recycles just over half of all beverage containers, and that number is steadily growing with increased recycling receptacles being distributed all over the province. Manitoba already has many facilities to recycle electronics, batteries, and toxic chemicals. However, there are a lot of items that aren’t accepted for recycling at all or in many locations. Styrofoam is difficult for any province or municipality to recycle, and is one of those items that needs to be replaced with an alternative that can be composted (mushroom packaging?) or its use discontinued.
There is great room for growth in actual recycling. Often recycling is seen as taking one item and down cycling it into another, which will then just be thrown out (plastic bottles to toothbrushes, for example). More emphasis needs to be placed on waste reduction before recycling. Green Action Centre works with municipal and provincial governments to affect policy change that matters. We have advocated for a curb-side organic waste pick up program in the City of Winnipeg and more recently, we were involved in Bio Solid Waste Management consultations.
Green Action Centre also focuses on changing consumer behaviours. Reducing the amount of waste by informing consumers about their options, the strength of their voice and the benefits of voting with their dollars is an important priority for us. Reaching young Manitobans in Northern Communities is also a goal we have for 2014. Often waste generation can be tied into better food choices, and that can be a challenge in remote Northern Communities.
Manitoba’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program currently being developed adheres to the “polluter pays” principle by shifting the waste management burden from taxpayers to producers and consumers. Winnipeg’s landfill is also implementing 4 R depots to increase diversion rates of household waste. Residents can drop off material that they no longer have a use for, isn’t accepted at existing recycling facilities but could be recycled, reused, composted, or resold.
About this guest blogger:
Amanda Kinden graduated from University of Winnipeg with an Environmental Studies/Geography degree and holds a business diploma from Red River College. She is the Living Green Living Well Coordinator at Green Action Centre. Amanda loves cooking and filling the bellies of her co-workers with delicious baked goods.