January 19, 2020

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Reducing dependence on landfills

Province wants to replace trash talk with recycling action

A ban on plastic grocery bags is one possibility the government is considering, but it could create more problems.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

A ban on plastic grocery bags is one possibility the government is considering, but it could create more problems.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/12/2014 (1863 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

We're doing a better job of recycling, but still throw out more garbage than other Canadians.

To change that, the Manitoba government has released a discussion paper to get Manitobans thinking about what more they can recycle in the coming years — everything from old vacuums to unwanted furniture — to taking action on hard-to-recycle products, such as Styrofoam food containers.

The goal is to cut by half the amount of waste going to landfills by 2020. That would mean a reduction to about 400 kilograms a year per person from 800 kg now.

"It's time for some serious trash talk," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said Friday about the government's new focus on waste reduction.

Only residents of Saskatchewan and Alberta fared worse in terms of tossing out garbage.

Ideas include a total ban on single-use plastic bags, decreasing the amount of kitchen waste Manitobans currently place in the garbage, such as diverting it into municipal composting programs, reducing the amount of wasteful packaging and cracking down on the amount of industrial, institutional, construction and demolition waste that ends up in landfills.

Mackintosh said while the province is on track to meet its 2007 target of reducing the number of plastic bags used annually by 50 per cent by 2015, it's what to do next that will be the tougher challenge.

He said many Manitobans use plastic bags to collect waste in their homes, and that if a ban is imposed, it could create a larger problem.

"If we ban plastic bags, would that mean we would just shift to heavier plastic bags and actually send more plastic to the dump?" he said. "We need a public discussion now on what the best way to proceed is. Sometimes, the one-line answers aren't always the best, so let's work through that."

He said the province is also on pace to divert 75 per cent of beverage containers sold in the province by December 2016, but a new target has to be set to keep up momentum.

Perhaps more critical in the coming days, with Christmas around the corner, is what to do with the increasing amount of e-waste, such as old TVs and computer monitors Manitobans are replacing with newer models.

The Electronic Product Recycling Association says 3,026 metric tonnes of electronics were collected in the province in 2013, the first full year of operations for EPRA Manitoba.

EPRA program director Dennis Neufeld said there are now 59 collection depots in the province and home pickup is available in some areas for seniors or for a nominal fee.

Mackintosh added Exner E-waste processing Inc, is setting up a shop at a former strawboard plant in Elie to process e-waste to break it down into its component parts for reuse.

The consultation paper is online at gov.mb.ca/conservation/envprograms/recycling/index.html. The deadline for feedback is March 20.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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