Can $3 tags slow our mountain of waste?

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The debate over municipal waste handling has become much louder than in the past — largely because Warden Jane Toller is promoting a facility to burn waste to produce electricity. This electric power can power brand-new job-creating facilities across the Pontiac, via Hydro-Quebec’s cooperation.

There are objections to converting waste by burning it and capturing the heat to drive turbines — mainly, the facility’s own waste.  The greatest objections are the by-products from this process, and the storage of the final ash. Many believe we don’t need a multi-million dollar facility but that we can reduce waste at the street level … and reducing waste at the street means, first, householders must be more careful in what they buy and bring home. Less packaging, essentially.

Ottawa is looking at this same problem. One of their tools to get people to buy less packaging and single-use items is to enact and enforce municipal no-waste packaging bylaws. How do we get cooperation here? We ask residents to put out less waste, fewer bags on the street. And we get them to reduce their bags-at-the-street by charging for each bag.

Garbage trucks will not take untagged bags. Residents get a number of tags at tax time — and they can buy more tags, but at an expensive fee! Ottawa’s fee is $3 per bag. Each locality offers a different number of “free” bags at tax time.

What do you think? Is three dollars too much — to be realistic, is nine dollars out of sight? Three bags. Too much?

All of this will have a cumulative effect; shoppers will begin noticing all the plastic wrapping. Eventually stores will offer a dumpster for the wrapping that people take off their purchases to avoid taking the plastics home.

Now … which municipal council in the Pontiac will be the first to start this policy to reduce not only the waste at the street but the need for larger more complicated projects to reduce waste, or convert it? Will a $3 price tag end truckloads to Lachute and local landfills? Why shouldn’t we try it out? Wouldn’t you pay $3 if it helped reduced your waste?