I appreciated your informative article on the co-composting facility in Edmonton, Alberta (December/January 2001 edition). After reading it, however I felt there were a couple of key points worth highlighting that your readers may not be aware of. The article notes that “residents separate cans and bottles, paper, glass and plastics through a Blue Bag recycling system” but fails to mention that this is done with deposit legislation in place for all beverage containers except milk.
No one program is likely to solve all our waste problems but should be partnered for maximum benefit. Deposits effectively reduce the burden of Edmonton’s blue bag by more than 350 million containers per annum. This reduction means that the handling costs associated with more than 300,000 cubic metres of material were avoided by this municipal program.
If a similar user-pay model of deposit legislation — costing little more than a penny per container — was created in Toronto, an estimated 2,000 jobs in the private sector to handle this material stream would also be created. In addition to this cost shifting away from municipal taxes, persons choosing not to return their container for a refund would still leave an estimated $20-million worth of deposit bearing containers in the blue box to further offset program costs, which leads me to my second point.
With respect to Mel Lastman’s visit to Edmonton, it is my understanding that Mr. Lastman returned to Ontario vowing to implement deposit legislation as part of the overall waste management program for his own City of Toronto, and it was this aspect of Edmonton’s success he was most impressed with.
Thanks for bringing important issues to light in your magazine, it is a valuable resource in our industry and we appreciate your work.
Alberta Bottle Depot Association