Impacts of China’s decision not to be global dumping ground

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Published on: April 16, 2018

Transition Brockville / 16 April 2018

How might residential blue box recycling change following China’s decision to limit its intake of the world’s unwanted paper and plastic? What added costs might Brockville residents have to pay?

For the answers to these questions, Transition Brockville has invited Erik Lefebvre, district operations manager at Waste Management in Brockville, to give a talk at our next presentation, Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. in the Brockville Public Library. “Brockville is at the dead centre of what’s going on,” Lefebvre said in a conversation with Transition Brockville. In his talk, he’ll explain why.

As outlined in a recent CBC series on recycling, China was taking in about half the world’s unwanted paper and plastic for recycling when it decided last summer it would no longer be the global dump for some 20,000 tons of that material daily.

Sending recyclables to China was a cheap and easy solution for the developed world — including Canada — but a growing environmental nightmare for China. So last July, Beijing issued a list of 24 kinds of solid waste that it would no longer accept from the beginning of 2018. That includes textiles, mixed paper shipments and the low-grade polyethylene terephthalate used in plastic bottles, known as PET. It also imposed strict standards to avoid contaminated waste. China complained that too much of it came uncleaned and unsorted.

“[China’s new policy] is causing giant troubles for our industry,” Lefebvre said.

In his talk, he’ll describe Waste Management’s services in collection and hauling, operating a transfer station, and recycling. But his main concern will be to explain how China’s decision will affect local waste and recycling collection.

City and area residents who want to know what lies ahead and what they can do to recycle responsibly under the new policy will find Lefebvre’s presentation important and timely. This talk is free and open to the public; however, a free will donation to Transition Brockville is always welcomed. Refreshments will be served.

Also at this month’s meeting: Transition Brockville will be selling a special rose fertilizer as a fundraiser. This “Fritz Mix” was concocted by Paul Fritz for the roses in his beautiful rose gardens on Oak Leaf Road near Athens. He gave bags of the mix to the Athens Garden Club to sell as a fundraiser, but the club has dissolved and Fritz has moved. Using his recipe, Transition Brockville hopes to help rose lovers feed their roses while supporting Transition’s efforts to encourage gardening and more sustainable living. Each $5 bag feeds one rose bush for the season.