Solid Waste & Recycling


Our Top Letters (June 01, 2005)

Dear Editor...

Dear Editor

Re: Anaerobic Digestion (cover story, April/May 2005 edition)

Your last cover story on anaerobic digestion was most interesting; it raised questions in this writer’s mind that could generate ongoing constructive debate. Via interviews with compost experts and elected officials, reported by yourself, might the outcome of their responses to some of the following questions assist in furthering the sustainable management of this very significant discard stream:

* Are current landfill tipping fees adequate to motivate investment in centralized composting?

* Is “polishing” of anaerobically produced compost, referred to in the article, only necessary when high lignin content is present?

* What are the pros/cons of anaerobic-plus-aerobic versus stand-alone aerobic composting systems (i.e., apart from loss of anaerobically produced methane)?

* Is the significance recognized of encouraging highest voluntary householder participation in municipally operated source separated organic programs?

* What disadvantages might non-compostables cause if not removed? And how might those be addressed?

The generation and use of biologically generated methane energy during anaerobic digestion of organics demonstrates how one bad (greenhouse gas) actor (methane) may be put to good use.

Yours truly,

Jim Cairns


Dear Editor

Re: “Roll Up the Rim To Win?” (April/May 2005 edition)

I was surprised to read your thoughts on coffee cups. For me the problem is about how much of this stuff ends up in the ditch. I was asked to write about it by a Grade Five math class in Tignish who sorted the 600 pieces of litter they found along a one km stretch of highway. They found 123 coffee cups. According to the RRFB in Nova Scotia, coffee cups are the number one piece of roadside trash in that province. In official PEI surveys, coffee cups rank third after miscellaneous plastic and paper.

Yours truly,

Jonathan Riley

Our Editor Replies:

Thanks for the letter. There was a bit of whimsy in my Tim Hortons article, and I got a bit distracted debunking quotes that an Alberta newspaper falsely attributed to an environmental group. I agree that Tim Hortons and other such chains should take responsibility for their cups (e.g., via deposit, take back, etc.). An official at Tim Hortons head office said the company could only take back the cups in areas where the municipality would help — which I took as code for “pay the cost” of disposing or composting the cups, which I gather are difficult to recycle because of a thin plastic coating. It’s another example of companies externalizing costs onto taxpayers, a situation that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs seek to address. (I notice as well that the Solid Waste Association of New Brunswick is calling for cups like these to be placed on deposit. See news item on page 37.) We’ll continue to track this issue in the magazine, even as we enjoy our Tims.

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