Jumping On the Ban Wagon

October 16, 1998

By Michael Jessen

To ban, or not to ban: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the landfill to suffer the recyclables and compostables of outrageous lazy people, Or to take arms against a sea of garbage, And by opposing end them?

Okay, maybe Shakespeare wouldn't go so far as to rewrite Hamlet's famous soliloquy, but if he was an observer of the waste management scene today, the Bard of Stratford on Avon would probably be intrigued by the growing popularity of disposal bans to keep certain materials out of the waste stream.

Locally, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary imposed a ban October 1 on refundable containers going into either their landfills or recycling systems. One of the main reasons for the ban is to encourage some person or organization to step forward and establish a bottle refund depot in Trail. Most communities the size of Trail have such depots that facilitate the return of empty beverage containers for refund. This has become even more crucial now that thousands of extra containers will carry deposits.

The RDKB is also in the final planning stages for their upcoming ban on all recyclable paper that will become effective July 1, 1999. This regional district already banned the disposal of corrugated cardboard on July 1, 1995. Loads of waste that contain recyclable material face a doubling of the tipping fee.

Next up is the Greater Vancouver Regional District which is imposing a disposal ban on newspapers, telephone books, and office paper like photocopy, computer, letterhead, ledger, white and coloured bond papers. The ban is effective November 1, 1998. Warning tickets will be issued for the first six months for loads found with more than 10 per cent (by volume) of these banned materials.

After May 1, 1999, a 50 per cent surcharge will be levied on top of the regular tipping fee. Beginning November 1, inspectors will randomly check for newspapers and office papers in vehicles that deliver garbage to disposal sites.

This latest ban by the GVRD is one of a series that began in 1990 when drywall was banned from their landfills. Oil filters were banned in 1993 and corrugated cardboard was banned in 1997. Both the Capital Regional District and Nanaimo Regional District also have disposal bans on corrugated cardboard, newspapers and office papers.

Certain materials are banned from disposal if there is an infrastructure in place to recycle them or if they pose an environmental concern. Material bans conserve landfill space and assist in extending the life of disposal facilities. The recycling of materials like cardboard, newspapers and office papers saves energy and resources and assists in meeting the provincially mandated goal of at least 50 per cent reduction in per capita garbage disposal by the year 2000.

Raymond Gaudart, Solid Waste Management Coordinator for the RDKB, says his district's corrugated cardboard ban has made a difference. "We have a high amount of cardboard recycling in our district which can be credited to this ban," he explains.

Even if the ban is not stringently enforced, Gaudart feels the message has gotten through that this material is recyclable. He recalls one garbage hauler had to pay $300 instead of $150 for disposal of his 50 cubic yard container. "That got his attention pretty quick."

"We'll be revisiting our enforcement levels as we get nearer to the new paper ban," he concludes.

Nova Scotia has one of the most aggressive series of bans in the nation. Since April 1, 1996, Nova Scotia has placed disposal bans on redeemable beverage containers, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, lead-acid batteries, leaf and yard waste, used tires, waste paint, antifreeze, compostable organic material, steel/tin food containers, glass food containers, LDPE plastic bags, and HDPE plastics.

The main reason for disposal bans is because people are not doing the right thing. The Capital Regional District, which has curbside recycling pickup, found 22 per cent of waste disposed at their landfill was recyclable paper that comprised a whopping 10,000 tonnes. If we insist on being occasional recyclers, there is no question other jurisdictions will consider embracing material bans.

TRASH TIP - According to the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the average Canadian produces more garbage than anyone else on the globe. The district has concluded that three out of four businesses already recycle paper and cardboard. Now if they can only convince the fourth.

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