Finding solutions to waste management issues is a process and not an event that makes change instantly, says Tony Oxford.
In January, the mayor and council in Cox’s Cove served notice the town would be implementing mandatory recycling this spring. The town followed through on that commitment last month and changed the rules for what can be dropped at the curb for pickup by the garbage collection contractor.
All waste must now be placed in clear plastic bags, with the exception of one opaque bag permitted for items of a personal nature. Any additional bags require a sticker purchased from the town office.
The waste cannot contain any recyclable materials. Recyclables will be picked up once a month.
Oxford said the results could show recyclables collection might be needed every two weeks or it might only be needed once every two months.
“It’s only been in place a few weeks now and we haven’t had a chance to measure how it’s been going so far,” he said. “We’re phasing it in over three months. By mid-June, we’re hoping all our residents will be cooperative and onside.”
It is the taxpayers’ money the town is trying to save after all, said the mayor. Cox’s Cove collects around $90,000 in property taxes from its resident every year, but Oxford said it forks out more than $50,000 annually to pay for solid waste management.
It currently costs the town $59 per tonne to ship its waste to the landfill at Wild Cove, so less waste being sent means money left in the municipal coffers. The cost might soar higher when the regional waste management system is fully implemented and the waste has to be shipped to Norris Arm in central Newfoundland.
In addition to diverting recyclable items from being tossed out with the regular household waste, the town is hoping to soon have a plan in place for compostable material.
Cox’s Cove has received a $10,000 grant from the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board to implement the composting project. The idea is to negotiate a deal with the NuMink Inc. mink farm located near the town to accept the compostable materials.
Oxford hopes to have the project in place this summer.
“Theoretically, composting takes 40 per cent of your tonnage out of the waste stream,” said Oxford. “We’re hoping to achieve considerable savings through those two programs.”
Oxford does have concerns more stringent waste collections rules might lead to a rise in illegal dumping, but hopes people will see the light and do what’s right for the environment.
“I think it’s going to take some time before everyone in Newfoundland is of the opinion that it’s not a good idea to get rid of your waste on a forest access road,” he said.