Opinion: Alberta’s lackadaisical recycling hurting its global image

Without some major change in the world of recycling, Alberta’s image will remain poor

Let’s face it, unless Alberta makes some major changes in the world of recycling, its global image of ‘dirty oil’ will not go away.

Of course Albertans know that the province’s safety standards are high, and its environmental awareness is also high, but all of that is meaningless unless the rest of the world buys into that idea. That won’t happen as long as we continue to leave other environmental factors out of the equation.

The bombshell of information that manufacturers of packaging already charge customers a recycle fee (fractions of a penny) for their product yet Alberta municipalities still pay for recycling services should be enough to wake people up (see page 22). Alberta is the only province that has no legislation ensuring manufacturers deal with their products till their end of life.

Sure, change is hard. Nobody likes it, and Albertans appear to be the slowest Canadians to change, but from a fiscal point of view, we’re being charged twice for a service. How does that even make sense?

Our political leaders (UCP, NDP or otherwise) know what happens when even the slightest suggestion of change is announced: chaos, mayhem, angry taxpayers and threats to chop off heads. Cries of “I pay my taxes!” remind us that Corner Gas’s Oscar Leroy character is a little more accurate than we realize.

We’re so stuck in an old way of thinking that we neglect to look at how others see us. And I’m not talking people down the street, I’m talking major world policy makers who look at specifics such as what a province’s recycle mandate is, how advanced is its recycling sorting or how much product is going to a landfill.

It turns out most of our plastics (numbers 3 to 7) are going to the landfill. Alberta and Canada is ill-equipped to efficiently sort these plastics and now China, a major collector of plastics, doesn’t want the product. This is affecting Canada and United States in a major way.

We can cry all we want that China’s requirements of 0.5 per cent contamination is too high but there are many countries in the world that have been sorting their waste to a much more efficient level, for many years.

For those easily offended, now is the time to get over yourself. The harsh reality is that from the outside looking in, Alberta and Canada do not have a great track record and as much as we’d like to live in silos, the world is a much smaller place and there’s major global changes taking place. We can scream and yell all we want but that’s just going to come across to the rest of the world like a spoiled child.

According to 2013 data from Statistica, Canada ranks 25th of 35 countries when it comes to recycled and compost waste among its Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries membership.

We’re recycling and composting 24 per cent of our municipal waste. Germany, which ranks first, is at 65 per cent. Maybe we’ve had some change in the last five years but it’s doubtful we’ve done enough to bump ourselves up a spot. The United States is in the middle of the pack, 17th, and is recycling 35 per cent of its waste.

Some folks may think to themselves, “But what about all the other countries that have more waste?” The attitude of ‘what are they doing’ needs to stop. Alberta must make some serious changes if its going to change the world’s viewpoint.

Without action we can only blame ourselves for a negative world image.

Just Posted

MISSING: Police hoping to locate man reported missing

Ponoka RCMP looking to public to help find Joseph Desjarlais

Breaking: SuperNet provider Axia cannot guarantee continued service

Alberta’s health, schools, libraries, municipal governments at risk from delayed bidding

Highway 53 concerns being looked at

Speed zone change being contemplated, other issues will depend on who has jurisdiction

Court full as schools, parents dispute Alberta gay-straight alliance law

Justice Centre argues keeping parents out of the loop violates freedom of religion and expression

Research paper states low income earners hit hardest by dairy supply management

Canada’s poorest spend more of annual income on food staples than higher income earners

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

After World Cup lineup photographed, England urges media to help team

Now the England camp is actually asking media: Are you with us or against us?

Liberals set hiring, procurement rules for federally-funded projects

Indigenous Peoples, recent immigrants, veterans, young people, people with disabilities and women to be hired

Get your hot dog water, only $40 in Vancouver

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

Privacy questions linger two years after Canada-U.S. terror list deal struck

Two years after Canadian and U.S. security agencies signed an updated agreement officials consider privacy risk

Manitoba MP was allegedly abusive at Red Cross shelter

Canadian Red Cross has filed a complaint that Liberal backbencher MaryAnn Mihychuk ignored protocol

A look at what Canadian teams might do in the 1st round of the NHL draft

Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton in top 10 of upcoming draft

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Western lowland gorilla, 46, died in her sleep in California

Clearview and Wolf Creek school boards sign historic agreement

Partnership will help 2,000 high school students

Most Read