Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Best Recycling Program: Lotus Land vs. Capital City

Recycling is a cornerstone of sustainable living. It reduces the amount of garbage thrown into landfills and the amount of raw material, such as plastics and metals, produced to manufacture commercial items, like bottles and cans.

Regrettably, Vancouver is still lacking some of the more refined recycling services available in smaller urban settings, such as Ottawa.

In Ottawa, everything goes into a bin. Plastics, cans, containers, tins, anything metal or plastic-looking into one bin and all paper including newsprint into another bin.

Paper items are stuffed into plastic bags in Vancouver. Paper, including cardboard, must be cut, trimmed and otherwise manipulated into a medium-sized bag that, in rainy Vancouver, is often soaked from the day before. Newsprint is stuffed in a separate bag.

Cans and plastics are generously entitled to a large blue bin, but plastic bags are not invited.

Instead, all plastic bags must be bundled up and hauled to a Safeway grocery store to be recycled.

Not to mention that when purchasing bottled items from stores in Vancouver, there is a five cent levy repayable only upon returning the item to the store. This, in my opinion, ends up being more of a third tax and a disincentive for people on a tight schedule or budget to buy recyclable items.

What’s disappointing about Vancouver’s recycling system is not so much that it does not provide comprehensive service. It’s that recycling in Vancouver is painstaking, inconvenient and just plain nonsensical (paper should never have to be shoved into bags!).

What makes more sense, and would probably save more fuel and time in the long run, would be to have one truck pick up all recyclables and take them to the recycling plant. This would save on gas and would, probably, encourage more Vancouver residents to pick recyclable items and fill up their bins.

Even Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has a more user-friendly recycling program than Vancouver. Check it out here.

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