There are bound to be a few people who get frustrated having to sort their garbage, but Katie Temple believes adapting to new waste collection rules won’t take long.
The western region of the island of Newfoundland will finally adopt the new system this year. The Corner Brook area, including the Bay of Islands out to Pasadena, along with the Bay St. George area will start using the new system July 16.
The new rules will require everyone to sort their waste into two streams — all recyclable items in a blue bag and all other garbage in a clear bag.
The mandatory program expands the types of materials that can be recycled.
It will be introduced to the Burgeo area and the Northern Peninsula from Norris Point to Bellburns in August and then to the Port aux Basques area in September and in the Deer Lake and White Bay areas in October.
Temple, who is executive director of the Western Environment Centre in Corner Brook, said the system is long-awaited news for many.
“I really think people are just so ready to have this happen,” she said. “There will always be a few challenges when it comes to education and making sure everyone is sorting properly, but I think that is just going to be a minor blip along the way.”
The program, dubbed Sort-It Western by Western Regional Waste Management, is similar to recycling programs in other areas of Newfoundland and across the country when it comes to the types of items that can now be recycled.
New to what can currently be left on the curb in Corner Brook, for instance, are items such as cardboard pizza boxes and plastic clamshell trays.
Temple said people may be surprised to see glass jars, gift bags and wrapping paper are not on the recycling list. She said those items are not actually easy to recycle, but hopes there will eventually be an initiative that will at least allow for more glass to be recycled.
Some may also be disappointed that food waste will be permitted in the clear bags of household garbage. Temple said there are talks happening about coming up with a comprehensive plan for compostable materials.
“When dealing with organic waste, there is a lot to consider to do it properly,” she said.
While the west coast is behind other areas of the province in terms of sorting garbage in this fashion, Temple commended the regional waste management board for doing its best to get it right the first time.
“It’s better to take the time and unveil it and have it work properly, rather than rush through and not have it all sorted out and run into a whole bunch of problems,” she said.
She expects there will be more public education about the program coming before it is fully implemented and people will be given ample opportunity to learn how to sort things correctly.
“It’s nothing insurmountable,” she said. “I think they will be lenient on people in the beginning and then get stricter and stricter as they give people the time to educate themselves.”
According to the waste management board, recyclables will not have to be sorted and all recyclables can be placed in the same blue bag.
Retailers in western Newfoundland have been asked to stock up on blue recycling bags and clear garbage bags in time for the program launch in their area.
Some people online have expressed concerns about the impact eliminating black garbage bags might have on the makers of Billy Boot garbage bags, which are manufactured in Newfoundland and Labrador by East Coast Converters Ltd of Mount Pearl.
No one from the company would do an interview, but the company did confirm it does make clear bags along with its black and blue garbage bags. Its largest market area is St. John’s, which continues to allow black bags for garbage disposal and the company doesn’t expect the changes in western Newfoundland to impact its black bag production.
The clear garbage bag policy is already in effect in Mount Pearl and in central Newfoundland.
Temple said she doesn’t believe the changes will lead to a rise in the illegal dumping of household garbage by people who find it too hard to make the changes required of them.
She said there will always be a small minority who illegally dump, but the majority of that activity involves larger items that can’t be placed on the curb with regular trash anyway.
She said other jurisdictions that have made this change have not seen any significant rise in illegal dumping.
“Some people will have problems sorting in the beginning and get frustrated, but I don’t think that’s going to make people more likely to just go toss it into the woods,” she said.
Temple said the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle is going to be more important than ever now. She said reducing consumption and the amount of packaging when buying, then finding ways to reuse, compost or recycle leftover materials will lead to less material in the clear bags left at the curb.
For all the details of the Sort It – Western program, visit http://www.wrwm.ca/