The Future of Waste in the East Kootenay

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Do you want community composting? More reuse centres in our region? If you live in the Regional District of the East Kootenay (RDEK), now is the time to have your voice heard.

The RDEK is working on a new 10-year plan for waste management and is looking to hear from you. While municipalities manage the garbage pick-up and transportation to transfer stations, the regional district is responsible for long-term waste management services in our region, including transfer stations, landfills and recycling centres. They could also be the ones to bring community composting systems to our communities, add recycling door-to-door pick-up services and increase the number of reuse stores at our transfer stations.

Worldwide, we are experiencing a waste crisis. We read about the overwhelming issue of plastic, the floating islands made from plastic waste and see images of wildlife, like whales, turtles and birds, who are dying from eating plastic. Added to that, climate change is already bringing climate weirding to our everyday lives. By managing waste differently, we can reduce GHG emission levels while waste is breaking down, particularly with organics.Read more on the state of plastic in Canada in a recent CBC MarketPlace investigation.

Now is the perfect time to make long-term commitments in the RDEK to invest in community composting, more reuse centres at transfer stations and to increase the range of recycling accepted in our region. After recent community compost pilot projects in the Elk Valley and Columbia Valley, there was a lot of support for long-term implementation. But, we need collaboration between the regional district and municipalities to make a centralized system a reality.

Adding in new waste management systems would also reduce the stress on our landfills. The Elk Valley landfill is phasing out and waste will now be trucked to the central landfill in Fort Steele, which has an estimated lifespan of 100 remaining years. By increasing waste diversion, we could lessen the load and increase the lifespan of this landfill. Read more about the central landfill here.

Take a minute to let the Regional District know that you want to see our communities invest in waste diversion like community composting.

While significant improvements have taken place and efforts are constantly being made to improve waste diversion, as of 2015, 10% of materials were recycled, 23% were diverted and 67% were landfilled in the RDEK. Glass, one of the more commonly recycled materials in the yellow bins, is often crushed and buried in the landfill. Despite the high energy inputs required to make glass and the ease of recycling it, the global marketplace has shifted and low demand means the glass goes to the dump rather than being reused. Read more on the state of recycling in the RDEK here.

You have until February 25 to have your say in the future of waste management in the RDEK.  Please take a minute to support more waste diversion in our communities!