Waste management – part two: Recycling

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Darlene Pashak


Darlene Pashak

MRC PONTIAC – To understand recycling in the MRC Pontiac, The Journal reached out to the 18 municipalities about their recycling programs and costs. Twelve responded, indicating that the average cost for recycling per municipality is $20,000-$30,000/year and between 40-150 tonnes is diverted from landfills annually. The cost to individual ratepayers is included in their regular garbage fee, or is very minimal (up to $1 in some cases). 
Kari Richardson, MRC Pontiac Environmental Coordinator, said the government offers a compensation program for recycling, based on population and tonnage, and many of the Pontiac’s municipalities receive significant rebates. In Waltham, for example, their recycling program is fully reimbursed, costing the municipality $0.
Three companies currently accept recycling from the municipalities: Evolu-Tic Outaouais,  Tom Orr Cartage (3477835 Canada Inc.), and Tricentris. Acceptable materials are similar among all of the companies, except for plastic #6, which only Tom Orr Cartage accepts, with the exception of styrofoam. Despite being widely used, this type of plastic is hard to reuse and the market is small.
When asked what happens to items that are improperly recycled, municipalities mostly indicated it has never been identified as a problem. They try to education residents about proper recycling techniques, and if waste transfer staff see a problem, they address it at the source. Some municipalities do a
preliminary sort of the recyclables, and if something is too dirty or not recyclable, it’s placed with regular waste.
Enviro Éduc-Action discusses waste diversion
On November 14 at L’Ancienne Banque in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Geneviéve Carrier and Ayoub Hammoudi from Enviro Éduc-Action presented information about the four R’s and more: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (compost) plus Refuse, Repair and Rent, which are all strategies to divert garbage from landfill.
They explained the importance of the provincial government’s objective to eliminate all recyclable and compostable materials from landfills by 2020. Recyc-Québec studied trash in Québec, and found 16% was plastic, glass and metal; 20% was paper and cardboard; 44% organic materials and only 20% waste.
Landfills contribute to various kinds of pollution: in the soil, air and water, in addition to the carbon dioxide created during transportation. Pontiac waste is transported to Lachute, which is much farther than the recycling
centres, thus increasing air pollution from CO2 emissions. Backyard composting doesn’t involve transportation, so the method doesn’t contribute at all to pollution.
Projections indicate that by 2040, or at the latest 2050, current landfills will be at capacity. As Carrier pointed out, landfills are located in farm and woodlands, and would be difficult to expand. Similarly, she said, the government would struggle to open new landfills.
Another reason to reduce waste is purely economic, and the presenters noted recycling and composting companies are non-profit, compared to landfills that are private, for-profit. MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller noted that the Pontiac pays about $900,000 to ship its waste to Lachute annually, which she wants to reduce in order to position the Pontiac as a green leader.
Recycling tips from  Enviro Éduc-Action
If a plastic bag can be stretched, it is recyclable. Stiff plastic that contains potato chips or spaghetti, for example, are not recyclable.
There’s no need to remove labels from containers, but remove lids because they will be sorted into a different pile than the plastic or glass container.
It’s best practice to rinse items because it benefits employees at the sorting facilities, but Enviro Éduc-Action advises schools, festivals and other large gatherings to just recycle and not worry about rinsing. Rinsing items avoids attracting vermin and insects, and will cost less in the long run.
Soiled cardboard and paper plates are not acceptable because the fibres are ruined.
Many Pontiac transfer stations recycle other materials too: batteries, electronics, paint, metal, brush, etc. that are then taken to different sites. Construction materials can be recycled at the Pontiac Sorting Centre in Litchfield. 
And finally, recycle good household items and clothing by donating to organizations that resell them.
The final article in this series will examine composting.