IS THE GREEN BIN PROGRAM MERE "GREEN-WASHING"?

(See UPDATES, below)

 
Rural Council Reports:

Ottawa’s Green Bin Program smells foul before it begins

Ottawa’s Green Bin Program (GBP) is predicated on the assumption that it will enable the city to comply with MOE's requirement to increase its level of waste diversion from its current 35% range to 60% by 2010.

The city claims that its costly program, (an aerobic process that the Composting Council of Canada calculates will cost between $300 to $500 per throughput tonne), is a step in the right direction because it will improve diversion by a whopping 7%.

Many who are already doing home composting wonder how the city could ever have hoped to achieve 60% diversion from landfills by rounding up vegetable peelings and other "normal" compost materials that they are already diverting from landfills by composting them in their own back yards ...only to see the city redirect this back-yard compost material through an additional waste-collection bureaucracy.

Just think of the carbon footprint created from all of the extra fuel consumed by the brand new fleet of Green Bin trucks performing this apparently nonsensical "green-washing" exercise. It all represents over-the-top social engineering that is as unaffordable to the taxpayers as it is potentially harmful to the environment.


If we had merely followed common sense and simple logic, both would have told us that the convoluted green bin program should have been a non-starter.

Far better, if the city had started with an inexpensive educational program to encourage those urban, suburban and rural residents that are not already enjoying the benefits of doing their own home vegetable waste composting, to join the crowd.

Thousands of Ottawa homeowners are still happily using the old back-yard compost bins handed out by the Region many years ago. We could achieve far more, at much less cost, by simply expanding upon that superb 'green-direct' concept!

We should be using back-yard composting to easily fulfill the first of the three Rs, (of "Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse").  By simply reducing --at source-- the organic waste going out to the curb, we can reduce the  costly municipal mismanagement of a needless Green Bin Program. We can also reduce the associated truck traffic noise, reduce the burning of fossil fuels, reduce the tax dollars being spent on rapidly increasing hauling and labour costs, and reduce the amount of organic waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

Now that's 'waste diversion'!

If we had merely followed common sense and simple logic, both would have told us that the convoluted green bin program should have been a non-starter. To speculate as to how Ottawa Council got taxpayers locked into a 20-year contract with a program that models the two-year failed experiment in Toronto, (see links, below), defies comprehension.

Any organic wastes such as disposable diapers, hygiene products, meat waste and the many other undesirable or toxic materials that really have no place in composts should be converted into clean energy using any of the several emerging Clean Energy From Waste technologies that are out there.

You don't create "landfill diversion" by creating a whole NEW waste stream that includes offensive or toxic non-compost materials, such, that by the time the city is finished with it, it could become so contaminated with undesirable constituents that should never go into composts, that there would not be a market for the material.

Obviously, without markets for this new product, it is destined to become yet another super-costly waste stream addition to the, already, rejected tonnes of landfill-leachate-soaked sewage biosolids, and similarly, the unmarketable blue box plastics that are both currently finding their way --below the radar--- right back into the landfills.

Some would see this as fitting the new growth industry model called "Feel-Good Enviro-Pseudonomics", which is defined as bad environmental science that is a form of social engineering designed to assuage our guilt by pretending something good is being done for the environment, when, in fact --while it may make some vested interests very wealthy-- it is both environmentally harmful and economically unsustainable. In short, "Green-washing".

Here is a brief review of the, still unfolding, history of Toronto’s sorry Green Bin Program:

Green bins: A wasted effort?The Star- July 04, 2009:
http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/660864

How tons of rotting garbage ended up in a gravel pitThe Star- July 04, 2009:
http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/660862

Province steps in to fix Green Bin messThe Star - July 07, 2009:
http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/661902

Re: Orgaworld - in London, Ontario:
Smelly London plant a 'black eye' for composting -Ottawa Sun - May 5, 2010
Property value, quality of life affected by stench

http://new.ottawasun.ca/news/ottawa/2010/05/05/13839826.html#/news/ottawa/2010/05/05/pf-13839826.html

UPDATE: July 14, 2010- Temporary shutdown of Orgaworld in London, Ontario:
Compostor raises a stink - London Free Press, July 14, 2010


The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is in the process of updating the Waste Diversion Act of 2002. Minister John Gerretsen invites Ontario residents to submit comments to the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry, before January 11, 2010, with their suggestions on how to improve diversion of waste from landfills.

Here’s your chance to have a say:
http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTA4MDIy&statusId=MTYyMjY5&language=en

After we have recycled and reused all we can from the waste stream, the only way we will ever achieve close to total waste diversion from landfills is to extract the high energy value out of what remains, leaving a small amount of totally inert aggregate material that is useful for clean fill and construction.

At this scientifically-advanced point in our history, it would seem very timely for our Ontario Government to apply newly available state of the art technologies toward achieving the win-win scenario of deriving clean energy from our waste, while simultaneously eliminating our primitive garbage dumps.

If you feel this way, too, please write to the Minister!


City of Ottawa - Budget deliberations - in January, 2010:

Ottawa's Green Bin Program will be discussed during budget deliberations in January, 2010.

It is important that you make your thoughts known to Council, regarding this $300-Million-plus venture setting up in Ottawa, on a 20-year contract, (after its 2-year failure record in Toronto)!

If you would like to comment on the green bin program, or any other item in the draft budget, there are several ways to do so. Please see the City of Ottawa website at
http://www.city.ottawa.on.ca/city_hall/budget/budget_2010/consultations_en.html for more information.

 On the City of Ottawa website, you are asked to send information to
311@ottawa.ca


HELPFUL REFERENCE:

While some think of Canada's wide open spaces as having unlimited landfill capacity, environmentally conscious provinces like Quebec are trending away from landfill proliferation and are turning towards the European models, showing that clean Energy-from-Waste practices are far more environmentally responsible and can even be profitable.
Thus, 'Waste' should be thought of as an energy resource that should not be wasted!
The National Post article, (below), points to the urgent need for Canadians to manage their garbage using responsible Energy-from-Waste processes, right here at home:

◙ 
The recycling conundrum: How your blue bin hurts the environment - N. Post

◙ 
Reader discussion that followed - National Post

◙  Energy from waste - Rural Council Reports 

From Mulch to Mess - Sue Sherring, Ottawa Sun -January 29 2011

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