Recycling Laws Help Reduce Waste

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Bob M. Kenney, a solid waste resource analyst, told me that aversion to organic waste traces back to the days of the bubonic plague, when food scraps began to be carted out of town. But since 1998, Nova Scotia has banned organic material from landfill. Just by separating out organics and recyclables, the province has reduced waste by 50 percent.

Canada is also in the process of banning electronics from landfills and will start charging environmental handling fees on things like computers and televisions at the time of purchase.

Nova Scotians are world leaders in recycling and it began with a grass roots environmental movement. Their waste disposal rate (the trash they must put in landfill) is 45 percent lower than Canada's overall rate and more than 50 percent lower than California's.

And all this is profitable. This province, with a population of 940,000, estimates it comes out $31-million a year ahead. This figure includes the profit from selling recyclables to China, the United States and Canada; the jobs recycling creates; and the reduced environmental impact. And as Kenney pointed out, making things from recycled material takes less energy. Most importantly, the public has embraced the process and takes pride in the environmental effort.

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