Last week I attended two interesting meetings. The first was a luncheon put on by Waste Management Inc. where the speaker presented on the topic of energy from landfill gas, a very hot topic these days as people make the connection between buried waste and the need for alternative energy sources. My sense is that these kinds of projects are of great value where large landfills already exist. The prospects don’t look so good for any new or expanded landfills where the surrounding communites such as Toronto separate their organics for composting, since obviously the main methane generating materials are handled separately. The event was well attended and the networking was excellent.
The next day I participated in the Ontario Conservative Party one-day Waste Summit. The Tories are the opposition party in Ontario, led by John Tory who was on hand for the day along with the opposition environment critic. They’ll take the notes from the meeting — which included roundtable discussions — and turn them into a report like the one they did last year on crime, and try to get some action on key issues by making a fuss over them in the legislature. Maybe we’ll see some real progress over time on key issues like meaningful EA reform. (As an aside, one of the points I raised was that in Ontario there’s still a 10 cent environment levy collected on every alcohol beverage container sold in the province. I’m told this raises about $60 million per year that simply flows into general revenues. I think the tax should either be abolished ordirected toward some truly useful environmental purpose directly linked to beverage container packaging. It’s interesting to me that the $60 million happens to be almost exactly half the net cost of municipal curbside recycling in Ontario. Perhaps the funds should be matched with those of the industry stewards to pay for the blue box. Or how about using them to set up a return-to-depot system for used beverage containers that would be placed on deposit?
On another note, I’m going to be away for a couple of days (Thursday through Monday inclusive) on a wilderness kayaking trip on Georgian Bay with my brother, my oldest (age 10) son and his cousin (age 13) from Washington. We’re putting in at Killarney and paddling among the various limestone and granite islands out there. For fun I’m going to try and keep track of what litter we encounter and report back next week in this space what we find. Hopefully no bears or Massassauga rattlers!