Nova Scotia landfills half filled with banned materials

Halifax's Otter Lake landfill won't expand upwards under new deal

Environmental activists want the province to enforce its rules on what's allowed in Nova Scotia landfills.

According to two waste audits done by the Resource Recovery Fund Board, 50 per cent of the material sent as garbage could be composted or recycled.

"Fifty per cent is a lot and it undermines the integrity of the whole system," said Mark Butler, a policy director with the Ecology Action Centre.

The banned materials arriving at landfills include organics, plastics, glass, metal and fibre (which includes newspapers and paper).

The Nova Scotia government has set a diversion target that it wants to meet by 2015. It wants the annual per person 
waste amount to be 300 kilograms. As of 2013, it was 376 kilograms. 

The province is expecting updated numbers early next year.

Environmental regulations are now under review and new bans are being considered.

Doug Hickman lives in Nova Scotia, but works as a consultant in the solid waste industry around the world. He thinks before any new bans come into effect, the province should send out inspectors to enforce the current rules.

"It only takes one or two well-publicized compliance actions and people begin to get the message pretty quickly that you know what, this is something that's important. We do need to do this," said Hickman. 

He says stepped up enforcement could help the province quickly reach its 2015 target, extend the life of Nova Scotia landfills and create new economic opportunities.