By Letter to the Editor on January 9, 2018.
The movement to urge citizens of Lethbridge to recycle products rather than toss them in the same bin has been going on for a few years. As taxpaying citizens paying for a service, our expectations are that the recyclables are getting recycled and they are not going to the landfill alongside the rest of our garbage. Unless we actually follow our recyclables through the entire process of being made into new products, it is impossible to say whether our recyclables in Lethbridge are actually being recycled.
Recycling may seem like a modern concept but the environmental movement has been around for many years. In fact, economic depressions made recycling a necessity in the 1940s. Because of public acceptance and awareness of the overflow of landfills, pollution, depleting of natural resources, energy and cost savings, the increased importance of improved economics of recycling and laws have been introduced.
Recycling is a business. In British Columbia my understanding is they have a program called “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” which puts the onus on the manufacturers of the recycled materials. Taxpayers no longer have to pay for recycling programs whereas Albertans pay taxes towards their recycling programs. If a city commits to a recycling program, my understanding is typically it becomes illegal to throw away recyclable materials.
In Alberta, items collected through recycling programs are unsorted, so it has become a challenge to sell to foreign markets. There are very few facilities that recycle plastic. Plastic has been sold in previous years and was guaranteed a trip to China. As of Jan. 1, China no longer is accepting our plastic. So, where are our recyclables going now?
Oil-based plastics do not degrade; all types of plastics are identified by a code, and some plastics are not economically feasible to recycle. I am not an environmentalist or a expert on recycling but I would think we should be careful as consumers what we purchase, for these non-recyclable plastics will be around for generations to come, creating numerous issues.
As a taxpaying citizen of Lethbridge, starting 2018, the City of Lethbridge “Waste and Recycling Program” is being implemented. I am hoping this program is not just words and that there will be clear benefits in terms of energy used, natural resources consumed, pollutants released and landfill spaces. I am hoping it will prove viable and materials are actually being sorted and recycled. I am hoping this program does not become only about making a profit.
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