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[greenyes] Waste Subsidies Must Stop (news article)
WASTE SUBSIDIES MUST STOP, SPIEGELMAN SAYS

  

Whistler (BC) Question, Friday January 23, 2004

 

  Local governments need to be convinced to stop 

subsidizing companies that produce the lion's 

share of society's solid waste if North 

Americans are to have a hope of reducing the 

impact of that waste, a leading B.C. expert on 

waste told a group of Whistlerites this week. 

 

Helen Spiegelman of the Vancouver-based Society 

for Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) 

told about 60 people at the Association of 

Whistler Area Residents for the Environment's 

(AWARE) annual meeting that it's ironic that 

regional lawmakers have adopted a "zero waste" 

target while District of Squamish looks to 

expand its landfill. 

 

"Local governments are expressing 'zero waste' 

as a goal while expanding our capacity to waste. 

They know many of us are not ready to stop 

producing so much waste," Spiegelman said during 

a 25-minute address titled, "Cities and Towns: 

Enablers of Our Society's Addiction to Waste." 

 

Speaking on Sunday at the Delta Whistler Resort, 

Spiegelman briefly recounted the history of 

municipal waste c ollection, disposal and 

recycling efforts to support her contention that 

local governments are subsidizing companies that 

produce the waste by providing such a service. 

 

As an example, she said Ontario's "blue-box" 

recycling program was started at the insistence 

of Ontario soft-drink producers who preferred to 

produce throw-away containers instead of 

collecting and reusing bottles. 

 

She cited figures showing that in the past 30 

years, the amount of waste produced by North 

Americans continues to increase in spite of 

society's best efforts to recycle used packaging 

and containers. Part of the problem, she said, 

is that producers have no incentive to reduce 

the amount of packaging they use because they 

don't have to deal with it after it leaves the 

store. 

 

"Three-quarters of our waste is products, so 

what we spend on disposing of waste is a direct 

subsidy to those producers," she said. 

"Producers produce products with a lot of 

objectives in mind, but recycling is not one of 

them. 

 

"Why not let munic ipalities step aside and let 

producers provide disposal for their own 

products?" 

 

While Spiegelman said most recycling programs 

are well-intentioned, they ultimately fall short 

because producers have no incentive to produce 

efficient, reusable packaging. 

 

E-waste, she said, is one of the fastest-growing 

segments of the waste stream. Used computer 

equipment  some of which contains lead and other 

potentially harmful components  made up 37,000 

tonnes of waste in B.C. in 2000 and will make up 

an estimated 74,000 tonnes by 2005. 

 

"The computer is the pop can of the cyber age," 

she said, noting the speed with which some 

computer equipment becomes obsolete.





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