Merrickville-Wolford council will go forward with exploring other options for their recycling program, after 190 community members signed a petition and presented it to council.
“We’re continuing with the existing contract for the garbage and recycling and (we will be directing) staff to look at Lanark County where they have one large recycling program for the municipalities,” said Mayor Doug Struthers.
The petition came about after community members noticed more recycling items were being refused at the landfill sites, which serves 3,200 residents.
Struthers stressed that the village already has an extensive recycling program. “Not only do we meet, but (we) exceed, provincial requirements,” he said.
Struthers explained that provincial requirements include recycling a minimum of five basic materials: aluminum food/beverage cans, glass bottles and jars, newsprint, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and steel food/beverage cans.
Two additional categories are also needed to meet requirements, but the village offers six more, plus a new electronics and rechargeable/single use battery program.
“Let’s not think we are doing so little, (or) not enough, if we have to wait until 2023. If you look at the (staff) report, we have a very extensive recycling program already,” Struthers said.
Struthers is referring to the full producer responsibility program coming into effect for the municipality on Jan. 1, 2023.
Ontario is making producers responsible for managing the waste generated from their products and packaging to promote innovation, reduce waste and lower costs for taxpayers, according to the Ontario.ca website.
By Dec. 31, 2025, producers will be fully responsible for providing Blue Box services provincewide, the website further stated.
“In the meantime, we also want to see other opportunities for efficiencies and expand recycling opportunities that exist in other neighbouring (communities) of Lanark county,” he said.
The staff report also stated that after contacting the receiving facility — Waste Management in Brockville — it was confirmed that there is no sustainable market for recycling of black plastics and Tetra Paks. Other recycling companies accept these materials, but at a significant cost to the municipality.
Struthers also wanted residents to be cognizant of the many aspects of recycling and the potential impact to the environment. He cited the process involved in ensuring a peanut butter jar is clean for recycling purposes: “what did it take to get it clean? You turned the tap on, consumed water, there’s a cost of delivery and heating the water. When it goes down the drain, (water) needs to be treated.”
“All of those steps take place before the peanut butter jar ends up in the Blue Box,” Struthers continued. “I’m not suggesting there’s a perfect answer, (but) we want to ensure that when an entity says they’re going to recycle, we want to make sure that it doesn’t end up in somebody else’s landfill site.”
For more information about the producer responsibility program, visit www.ontario.ca/page/producer-responsibility-ontarios-waste-diversion-programs
Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News