Monday, October 18, 2004

Green bin jitters

Tomorrow will be my first chance to drag my shiny new green-bin to the curb. I haven't yet made up my mind as to the overall merits of the program. In theory, it could reduce the City of Toronto's expenses - based on the hypothesis that fewer trash-laden trucks will need to be dispatched to Michigan.

However, the history of recycling programs has seen so many cases where dutiful citizens have been duped into spending chunks of free time separating their household waste - only to have the different streams recombined in a landfill due to a lack of market. Granted that the markets may develop in the long run - but in the long run we are all dead.

In the case of Toronto's green-bins, although there is a market for compost, there is not a infinite market. The market may be able to handle the amounts generated by Guelph - which instituted the wet-dry system a number of years ago. Can it absorb the quantities that will now be produced from Toronto? I'm all the more skeptical given that the city has been trucking sewage sludge to our aforementioned friends in the State of Michigan. This was supposed to have been peletized into fertilizer - a scheme for now derailed by a fire at the plant. This fact was kept under a fairly tight wrap until the last few weeks. I'll soon be checking the City's website to see if I can find actual statistics on the reduction in the 401 trash express.

If there is a shortage of compost, manure etc., it doesn't seem reflected in the prices of these. There are surely limits on how much fertilizer can be used by the agricultural sector. What will happen when the market tips into oversupply?
(If it is not already.)

Well - some of my neighbours already have their bins out at curbside. Given the burgeoning racoon population in my neighbourhood, I'm leaving this secured upright on my front porch until the morning. No racoon has yet attacked it. Perhaps this is because they have been so busy trying to empty my bird feeder.

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