Monday, October 25, 2010

After the curb, where does our waste go?

My family and I went for a tour of the Region of Waterloo’s Erb Street landfill site over the weekend. It’s the kind of thing that my sons and I usually enjoy doing, and this time my wife went as well.

There were many interesting sights and a lot to learn; I feel like I should have been taking notes! For example, the scale of waste management that goes on at the facility is eye-opening. We learned that while power generations isn’t the focus of the facility, methane that is produced by the waste is enough to fuel the on-site generation of electricity that is sufficient to power 4,000 homes.

A message that our guide repeated a few times is that the landfill site has a finite lifespan. Everything that we, as individuals and families, can do to divert waste from landfill helps lengthen that lifespan.

For me, though, nothing conveyed the scale of operations and the importance of diversion as much as seeing the bales of plastic or the mountain of corrugated cardboard that filled the building where processing of recyclable materials happens. The reason to reduce, reuse, and recycle becomes visibly obvious when seeing these sorted recyclables.

On a final note, we were delighted to replace our curb-side green bin while on the tour. Our old one has been in use for quite some time and has an impressive hole gnawed through it as a result of squirrels trying to get at the contents. Thanks to the Region for that, and for the opportunity to see the final destination of the stuff that we put out by the curb for collection every week.

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