‘Fresh look’ at garbage

(Graphic by Adele Palmquist)

In an attempt to look at how waste collection, diversion and disposal will change over the next 20 years, the creation of a new Waste Management Master Plan has begun.

The Waste Management Division will be examining current programs and discovering alternative ways to keep more garbage out of the landfill. This plan will be looking ahead at the next 20 years, as the process of approving a new waste facility could take up to ten years.

“The current plan that we have been working off of is 25 years old and when it was first put in place, we have been putting updates to it every five years and the content and the mandate of that plan was implementing new programs and related to diversion,” said Donna Serrati, manager of engineering and programs at Waste Management.

“At this point in time, the majority of those recommendations in the master plan and the subsequent five year updates have been implemented, so it’s time to take a fresh look and see what else we can do.”

The study will be running for over 18 months, starting in spring 2013 and ending in fall 2014. Three rounds of consultation will be taking place in six-month intervals. The first round is a series of public open houses, the first public event beginning next week. The second round will include community outreach via social media and surveys.

“When the study is completed towards the fall of next year, we are going to be taking all of the recommendations to our final report for our regional council, which is an opportunity for members of the community to participate,” Serrati said.

“At this point in time, we haven’t completed the study, but if you look at the objectives of the study, it promotes diversion and many other impacts will take place in Waterloo.”

Mabel Wong, a global studies student at Wilfrid Laurier University and sustainability advocate in the community , believes that this new plan needs to strive to reach out to students living in Waterloo who remain mostly ignorant of the impact this new plan will have on them.

“University students don’t have parents in their home telling them what to do and how to do things,” Wong said.

“We learn most of our waste management habits in elementary school and I think we all forgot how to do this.”

Wong will be attending a public information event on Oct. 22 at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo. The event will disclose more information about the master plan and what the community can do to help.

“They’re just trying to figure out what to do for the next 20 years so they just really want to get the public’s opinion on how they reduce waste,” Wong shared.

“To make this successful, they want everyone to participate in the planning of it.”

To better represent the Waterloo area, Wong also created an online survey for the Waterloo residents to observe their waste practices, in hopes that they will be inspired to attend the information events and make radical changes for the environment.

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