Make better choices

The Third World and emerging countries shouldn’t be North America’s landfill.

Instead, we should be doing more here in terms of recycling and dealing with the mammoth waste issue that besets this continent of plenty.

For decades now, recycling has been a routine for many citizens, whether it be cans or newsprint. Generations have been trained to do their part for the environment.

The introduction of plastics and various other packaging to make it easier for producers to deliver their goods to consumers has put a strain on an otherwise simple system.

And of course, politicians far more interested in being seen as “green” rather than dissecting what makes sense to recycle has led to international headlines.

Despite best efforts to educate and inform, consumers have been guilted into choosing to recycle over putting items in the trash. Many communities have different standards, rather than a province-wide system. So, recycled goods often become garbage waste.

Food matter is a key problem in the recycling game. Unwashed containers and contaminants from materials not meant to be recycled all end up in the same bin.

This explains why the Chinese quit accepting recycling from Canada a few years back. It is why the Philippines declared war in a literal sense on Canada after container loads of contaminated goods were shipped to its shores and left to rot. The toxic stew has sat there for over five years waiting to be dealt with.

At last report, the hopes are to retrieve the waste and incinerate it in British Columbia. Taxpayers will foot the bill since the private firm involved appears to be no longer in business. That too is troubling, but a necessary evil, for Canada’s international reputation. Perhaps people in that line of work should post bonds so this doesn’t happen again.

While recycling efforts remain imperfect, this isn’t a case of all or nothing – decision makers need to focus efforts on what we can do well as a society. It is perhaps time this fact be embraced and we skip a blue box program rife with items that spoil the load. Unless a product has a viable market as a repurposed good, it needs to go to landfill or be legislated out of use.

Above all else with garbage woes, we need to deal with our problems here. Dumping it in the Third World isn’t just wrong, it is wholly unethical.