Waste and Recycling: We can do better.
by Dr. Rouba Fattal
A startling statistic from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that food waste is the 4th largest source of global greenhouse emissions. Doing our part for the environment is more than just switching to electric vehicles. It is also about how we consume goods and manage the leftovers.
Interestingly enough, individual households are not the main source of food waste. Chatting with folks in Kanata-South who work in grocery stores and restaurants, concerns were expressed over the amount of food and recyclables that are just thrown in the garbage at their place of work. Colleagues within my Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network have expressed a desire to improve composting and recycling but these programs are not readily accessible to businesses.
After having declared a climate emergency, the City of Ottawa did not integrate businesses into a more comprehensive organics and recycling collection program. Dumpsters at strip malls around Kanata have space to only recycle cardboard with everything else being classified as trash.
According to a CTV news article from June 2021, Ottawa’s Trail Road landfill is projected to reach maximum capacity in 2037. As your city councilor, I believe that it is paramount for the city to support businesses as much as possible to divert waste, recycle and support climate initiatives. Public spaces such as parks and walking paths lack adequate waste receptacles.
Suggestions for improving current waste management policies include mandatory green-bins, banning material from landfill and improved waste diversion in public spaces.
The city’s green bin program has allowed for the use of plastic bags to store organic matter to help reduce problems such as rodents, odours and maggots.
Mixing pet waste with regular trash in public garbage bins has led to the unfortunate removal of waste bins and this has resulted in more garbage strewn around our precious walking paths and parks. The green corridor passing through Bridlewood has been one area subject to these trash bin removals - much to the dismay of residents. Returning trash bins and pairing them with green bins is necessary to help keep our green spaces clean and help better direct trash.
Trash can be kept to a minimum by providing receptacles in high traffic spaces. The city could easily install waste bins next to high use bus stops such as those near high schools. Not only would this have a tremendous impact on litter reduction but would help educate our next generations.
As a city councilor, I will help build on the existing momentum and include multi-residential buildings for green-bin pick up. Restaurants and grocery stores would be included in both organic waste and recycling programs.
I believe that this, combined with an immediate ban of food waste from Ottawa landfills and improving the availability of green bin/recycling receptacles in public spaces will play a significant role in extending the life of Ottawa’s landfill, educate the public and save taxpayers money in the long-term.