Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Editorial: Time to re-think waste practices

It’s one thing to ‘waste not want not,’ but quite another to just create less waste.

Through our 5Rs of Waste Management feature, this week’s paper puts the spotlight on ways to reduce the amount of garbage islanders produce and send to the Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

Operated directly by the Capital Regional District (CRD) since 1985, the end of the landfill’s “life” is in sight: at our current rate of use, it will be full by 2045. One focus of the CRD’s 2021 Solid Waste Management Plan is to shrink the waste stream so that Hartland can be used until 2100. (Who knows what “garbage” will look like at that point in time?)

A CRD study estimates each person in the regional district, which includes the Gulf Islands, is currently responsible for 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of waste that ends up in the landfill each year. That per-capita amount has steadily increased in the past few years. As much of the material is wood and other demolition waste, the active real estate market in the CRD area and resulting renovations is identified as a major factor.

But perhaps even more relevant is that when the waste composition was examined, more than 60 per cent of Hartland Landfill deposits could have been dealt with in other ways, such as through composting and recycling.

The CRD has so far taken action itself by raising tipping fees to incentivize diversion, expanding bans on certain materials and facilitating access to viable alternatives, and upping regulatory enforcement where required. But another way the CRD is tackling the waste stream issue is through its Rethink Waste community grants program, which provides up to $3,000 to individuals and groups for projects that reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.

The Salt Spring Printmakers Society is one beneficiary of a Rethink Waste grant, and islanders can see the extremely creative results at the community-wide art show called Re-Imagined: Making Art From Waste, on from March 14 to 27 at ArtSpring. Like all the best artwork, the show’s pieces should make its viewers think — and in this case hopefully rethink — what they consume, waste, throw out, and why.

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