Education fallen by wayside in years of waste management effort: chair

Cory Hurley
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With so many concerns and issues to address over the years, educating people on the future of waste management has fallen to the wayside, says Don Downer.

The chair of the Western Regional Waste Management Authority acknowledged that to a group in Corner Brook this week during a Coastal Matters presentation.

The majority of more than a decade has been spent debating a site selection for the western regional site. Once it was determined solid waste would be transported to central — something which continues to be argued — time was consumed lobbying for government subsidy to offset the trucking costs.

Downer said education is a very important part of the provincial waste strategy.

“I have to admit, at this point, we’ve almost only paid lip service to it,” he said.

The Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) is launching a public awareness campaign this fall, in partnership with the regional service boards.

Downer said there is only so much his staff of three can do.

“There is a total of three of us in the western waste management office,” he said. “Corner Brook has 89, if you include seven paid councillors.”

During the presentation, Downer reiterated the cost of using one facility for both central and western as opposed to two facilities — one in both regions — was a “wash.” The overall annual operating budget for these options are in the vicinity of $9 million. Government also did not agree to such a subsidy because other areas throughout the province would be lined up looking for it too, he said.

The chair also attempted to contradict arguments over the carbon footprint of transporting waste across the province by revealing the 50-year impact is virtually the same. He showed that through data of the footprint of building a western regional facility, operating it, and de-commissioning it after 50 years as opposed to trucking garbage to central for that duration.

Downer said the three-tier system of waste management would see organics and recyclables stay in western Newfoundland — with revenue to be generated from it. Only black-bag waste would be shipped to the site in Norris Arm.

The provincial government has also committed to funding all infrastructure costs for regional composting, he said. Additional savings to western municipalities and taxpayers can also be realized through transportation compaction, according to Downer.

Organizations: Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, Western Regional Waste Management Authority

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland

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