Thursday, March 10, 2011


The City of Edmonton diverts 60% of its residential waste from the landfill, meanwhile the City of Calgary only diverts 20% of its residential waste.  Meanwhile Germany diverts 70% of all of its waste from the landfill in 2008.  This is not just residential waste, this is 70% of residential, industrial, and commercial waste that is being diverted from a landfill.  Meanwhile Canada recycled 27% of their waste in 2004, and the US was only able to recycle 33% of its waste in 2007. 

How does Germany manage to recycle so much?  Germany decided in 1996 to place the onus of recycling on the manufacturers of the waste.  Germany created laws to place to make large companies responsible for the packaging that they distribute.  This means that companies in Germany are required to ensure that every single piece of recyclable material is recycled. 

The rest of the world leaves the responsibility of recycling up to its citizens, this creates a mess of a disjointed system of a million different individual efforts.  By making the consumer responsible for recycling you don't tackle the problem at the source, and instead take a "clean up after the mess" afterwards approach.  This sort of system ensures that the taxpayers are footing the bill to clean up after the mess that companies create with their packaging.  Governments have to build landfills, run sorting plants, garbage trucks and pay waste management employees.   Companies are do not have to worry about any cost or impact that their product incurs once it leaves their doorstep. How did we come to such a point, where companies have no responsibility in our societies other than to make money, and yet the citizens are left dealing with the trash on streets and the extra bills?

Germany's approach tackles the root of the problem, decreasing the chance of waste being produced in the first place.  If you eliminate the creation of the waste in the first place, then you do not have to worry about processing it.  All companies have the capacity to eliminate all wastes from their products and processes, it just takes a little innovation. 

Since companies have to clean up after their own mess under these laws, it becomes beneficial for companies to produce less packaging, since this means that they do not collect as much of it as well.  Companies in Germany are motivated to streamline their manufacturing processes in order to create less waste, increasing sustainability and efficiency.

Calgary is still not offer recycling for multi family residences until 2015...that is unbelievable.  No wonder Calgary is only recycling 20% of its residential waste.  Put the bins out there now, and at least give your citizens the option to recycle their waste.  History has shown that improper waste management has caused the collapse of civilizations.  Modern cities such as Rome, or Paris have had insufficient waste management systems in the past, which caused waste to build up in the streets and ultimately caused chaos and mass fatalities due to plagues.  History has also shown that our trash has also been a gold mine, as humans have long been making money by reselling/reusing trash.  We have the capabilities to eliminate the creation of the majority of modern waste, its about time that governments step up to the plate and hold companies accountable. 

What are some other ways you can recycle:
  • Become familiar with what is recyclable here
  • If you own a business or a manager set up separate bins for plastic, paper, organics, and waste
  • Donate any unwanted clothes or household items to a Local Charity
  • Save your fruit and vegetable scraps, among another 75 household items and 163 items for your compost to use for gardening
  • Save your onion, garlic, potato, carrot scraps among other vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock and save money
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn
  • Get creative and reuse common household items for other purposes
  • Instead of buying something new, first take a look at yard sales, flea markets, Value Village, or

No comments:

Post a Comment