A six-month pilot project to study the potential for diversion of plastic waste from Meaford’s landfill was officially launched on Sunday March 10th. With strong support from municipal staff and the active participation of a number of council members, the initiative will involve a group of families and small businesses who will collect plastic film that is currently not picked up in the Blue Box program. This includes plastics such as: bubble wrap, shopping bags, newspaper sleeves, product packaging, soil and fertilizer bags and cling wrap, which compose an ever-increasing proportion of our landfill, and which are to be found in islands that now measure hundreds of square kilometers, floating in our oceans.
The pilot study will allow the municipality to project the possibilities for waste collection and diversion on a larger scale, and will allow time to explore efficiencies such as compaction and baling of the plastic waste for recycling. Switch Energy, ofClinton Ontario, will be collecting the film at no charge, and the waste will be recycled by washing, drying, chopping into powder, and mixing with corn-based resins to create environmentally friendly resin for manufacturing ‘green’ MDF panels and Oriented Strand Board (OSB). These products have typically used toxic urea-formaldehyde resins in their manufacture, and green alternatives are increasingly sought after to contribute to LEED accreditation in new building projects.
This initiative has caught the attention of Waste Diversion Ontario, who recently presented Meaford with the award for the highest rate of waste diversion among Ontario municipalities (2011). WDO executives met with Thomas Dean, who helped develop the pilot program, on March 11th, and they will be closely following progress and considering ways to assist directly as the larger scale potential becomes clearer.
Greg Brown, one of the project participants, points out that diversion and purposeful recycling of plastic waste is another important step towards a zero-waste ideal, as outlined in the vision of Zero Waste Canada.