Trash plan a mess
If there is one lesson to be learned from this past Earth Day, in which hundreds of residents spent hours cleaning up Halton Hills, it's that we have a long way to go in changing people's attitudes when it comes to disposing of trash.
This past weekend, under glorious conditions, residents of all ages did their part to help beautify our town by filling hundreds, if not thousands of bags, of trash. The amount of garbage-- which included everything from tires to office furniture and even a a kitchen sink-- was mind-numbing. How can so many thoughtless people treat our community as a dumping ground? Equally troubling was a warning this week from Gord Miller, Ontario's Environmental Commissioner, who said the Ontario government has failed miserably when it comes to waste reduction. Despite election promises to divert 60 per cent of Greater Toronto Area garbage through the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and composting, the Liberal government hasn't made a dent in the garbage piles and even worse, doesn't have a plan on how it can be done. According to government statistics, Ontarians recycle and compost only 25 per cent of all their garbage. The rate rises slightly to 32 per cent if commercial waste is eliminated from the mix and only residential figures are used. That's still a long way from the 60 per cent target the Liberals set for 2008. While improvements in recycling numbers have come from municipalities which have adopted green bin organics programs, there are currently no strong markets for finished compost. According to Miller that won't change unless the government establishes province-wide standards for what can be in compost and the techniques used to produce it. While the province has indicated it is open to energy from waste incineration as a replacement for landfills, strict limits on what can be burnt must be established so as not to undermine recycling efforts, said Miller. Forcing businesses-- from restaurants to the construction industry-- to recycle must also be part of the plan. A survey of 260 businesses last year indicated 93 per cent did not comply with provincial recycling regulations. The efforts of all who took time this past weekend to clean a river bed, a park, a schoolground or a ditch, should be commended. However, we would like to see less work for them on future Earth Days.