Many in Fredericton are unhappy with their access to recycling services. That is apparent from the frequency that constituents raise at community meetings in Fredericton South.
If you live in an apartment, you have no recycling. If you live in a house, you cannot put out kitchen waste or glass for recycling. This leaves most people with no choice but to toss their banana peels, coffee grounds, and spaghetti sauce jars out with the trash.
To better understand the lifecycle of trash and recyclables in Fredericton, David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick followed the garbage trucks to the Fredericton regional landfill and recycling centre.
Garbage trucks and members of the public have access to the facility. Vehicles are weighed upon arrival and before leaving to determine how much is to be paid for dumping the trash. This is the so-called tipping fee. Recyclables are delivered to a sorting facility so they can be separated, packed for shipping and sold. Surprisingly, much of the recyclable material is exported to China.
Back in the 1990s, New Brunswick made two commitments: to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled by 25% by 1995, and to cut it in half by the year 2000. Unfortunately, the provincial government abandoned these targets so that we now dump 510,000 tonnes of garbage every year, more than double the 225,000 tonnes we were aiming for in the nineties.
The provincial government gave up much of its waste management responsibilities and transferred them to regional solid waste commissions, which is why we have such a patchwork of recycling programs throughout New Brunswick. Our neighbours in Nova Scotia never abandoned their waste reduction targets so they have had robust recycling services for years.
New Brunswick’s pile of garbage continues to grow. The Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission estimates that it has 40-years of landfill space remaining. Doing our part to be conscious of what we buy, throw away and recycle is pivotal to cutting waste. However, our government has a key role to play in providing leadership on waste reduction so all New Brunswickers have access to the recycling services they want, to do their part to lessen their burden on our environment.