This week for #WasteWednesday we’re talking about waste diversion.
Diverted waste are materials and/or items we do not need or want any longer that go through any separation or sorting from the waste stream in preparation for recycling or reuse, instead of being sent to a landfill.
So what does go to a landfill? All waste disposed of in the green waste dumpsters around the M.D. is landfilled. Whether it contains recyclables or not, anything in those dumpsters is collected, transferred, and eventually buried in a landfill for all time. Also, any waste hauled to one of our landfill transfer stations that is put in the Class 3 dry waste cell, AKA 'The Pit', or waste put in one of the Transtor transfer bins is landfilled.
When we look at calculating waste diversion rates, we look at the weight of material that is recycled divided by the total weight of all recycling and waste combined for a given year. With our seven landfill sites all lacking weigh scales, only recycling metal every 18 months or so, and stockpiling materials like concrete and shingles, it is very hard to quantify this number, so we won't.
Let’s focus on the numbers we did divert.
In 2020, we diverted 343.7 tonnes of waste material from landfills through our recycling programs. Of that, 127.9 tonnes (or 37.2% ) was tires and 105.3 tonnes (or 30.6%) was cardboard. The rest of that number was primarily from our mattress, grain bag, paper, plastic, electronics, and paint recycling programs.
These numbers are good and are steadily increasing, but so is the volume of waste that is being landfilled.
In 2020, M.D. residents disposed of 3,252.5 tonnes of Class 2 household waste and roughly 756.1 tonnes of waste in our Class 3 waste cells. We can improve on these numbers by changing our thinking before we put an item in the garbage or the dumpster. If we consider the thought “can I dispose of this in another manner where it would be recycled, reused, or composted?” we can divert more waste from landfills and have a real impact on our environmental footprint.
The M.D. of Bonnyville is working hard to improve our programs that not only offer ways for residents to divert more waste, but also to save the M.D. money in the long run by increasing the lifespan of our sites.
By expanding our recycling programs to include mattresses, grain bags, and the electronics pilot program with roughly 600 new items on the list of recyclables
, we are certainly moving in the right direction.