Wednesday, October 4, 2006

"Dog feces must be bagged, free of liquids, and placed in a larger bag"

If political correctness ever finally dies its long-belated death, it will gasp its last querulous breaths in the halls of municipal government. According to the London Free Press, a proposed change from the current unpopular six-day garbage pickup cycle to a regular weekly pickup will soon be entertained by city council… but less to assuage popular demand, as it happens, than to set the stage for aggressive trash reduction methods forwarded by the city's unelected staff and advisory committee on the environment. An innoccuous and undemanding four-bag limit on garbage implemented last year was an entirely predictable prelude, as it turns out, to a limit of three lighter bags that will accompany a shift to weekly pickup and — if Stephen Turner, committee chairperson, has his way — an eventual one-clear-bag limit with a two-week pickup. The change in pickup cycle is also "aimed at preparing for so-called green bin recycling" — the separation of organic waste by residents into separate "green" containers for recycling. According to Jay Stanford, the city's manager of environmental services, hand-sorting your kitchen scraps into separate receptacles is at least three years away from implementation, but the trajectory of the city's waste strategy is clearly pointing in the direction, even if it will cost "between $3 million and $4 million, not to mention up to $10 million for a composting facility unless the job is hired out to the private sector" — which will amount to an added contracting cost, which the article fails to point out.

What is to be gained from diversion of organic waste from landfills, apart from a sticky, smelly and expensive added weekly burden for Londoners? By definition, organic waste is decomposable… and its incorporation with other waste has never done Londoners any environmental harm to date. Why now? The manifest rationale of staff and committee — apart from the inherent sympathies of unelected officials for the dirigiste aspirations of environmentalist theorizers — is meeting the provincial goverment's absurd and arbitrary target of diverting 60 per cent of household waste away from landfills, a target that is compelled by the province's equally ridiculous and artificial political obstructions to landfill development and expansion. But it is to no avail to complain of distasteful obligations, arbitrary ambitions and political obstructions when the government has appropriated for itself an almost complete monopoly on the costs, opportunities and externalities of garbage disposal. You cannot buy a choice, you can only suck it up… or throw it in a nearby dumpster.

Less service, more work and higher prices… that's what London's waste strategy can do for you. Paul Tuns of Sobering Thoughts lives in Toronto, where wet garbage recycling was implemented last year, and thoughtfully lets Londoners know what they can look forward to:

Today is the first day in the Tuns household of separating garbage into at least three categories: (loosely) recyclables, wet garbage and dry garbage. Beginning next week, the city of Toronto is making us (not just the Tuns household but the whole of North York) separate the garbage under threat of not collecting trash if there are orange peels and used paper towels mixed with unrecyclable plastic milk bags or dryer lint. And get this, while diapers are wet garbage, wet wipes to clean babies' bottoms are not and must be discarded separately. Complete lunacy. Anyway, during dinner this evening both my sons, ages 14 and 8, complained about the new garbage regime and asked if they could write letters of protest to the municipal council. My wife encouraged this as long as one of us adults looked over the letters before they were sent. I discouraged the endeavour suggesting that city councillors are fascists intent on controlling our lives by heavily regulating our garbage.

(If you haven't received your shiny new London Garbage Calendar — sorry, Waste Reduction & Conservation Calendar — it can be downloaded in PDF format here. Enjoy.)


Sky Captain said...

Yorkshire has had Green Bins for 20 years.
They give you a pickup date for next time each time they call.
No biggy.
But bag limits sound like social 'engineering'.
They're full of shit, and they want everybody else to be full of shit as well.

Sky Captain said...

British Green Bins are really just for paper and packaging.
Dirty waste goes in Black Bins which are as mucky as ever.

Gordon Pasha said...

Weekly armed citizen trash convoys to Springbank Park.