Much to ponder

There’s no question Fort Frances has to do a better job of diverting recyclables from the local landfill. But with the current diversion rate sitting at a dismal 14.4 percent, even attaining the town’s five- to 10-year goal of a paltry 25.2 percent will be an uphill battle unless there’s a major shift in the mindset of residents when it comes to “blue boxes.”
Surprisingly, despite several years of getting used to “blue boxes,” the relatively mundane task of separating garbage from recyclables still isn’t second nature for many—and that’s frustrating given the current system couldn’t be any easier. Toss in pop cans, tin cans, most plastic material, and newspapers/flyers and carry it out to the curb once every two weeks.
Sure, it takes an extra effort to drop off glass at the bins next to the Public Works yard, but still not a huge deal.
Clearly, though, encouraging residents to recycle more—while important—isn’t enough. If Fort Frances is going to take it to the next level, residents also will have to be willing to shoulder the extra cost involved. For instance, while extending “blue box” pick-up to the local business sector is an obvious way to improve our diversion percentage, it means taxpayers footing the expense.
Even “streaming” our recyclables brings an added cost, although that would be offset by higher revenues the town could get for the material. Then again, it also would mean getting residents to separate the items themselves for different collection, which may prove difficult given people seem to have a hard enough time dumping everything into one blue box.
And perhaps most contentious, would residents be willing to forego the “one free bag” policy for garbage collection to help ensure less recyclables end up at the dump.
With a 15 percent cut in the $62,000 a year Fort Frances receives from Waste Diversion Ontario to help cover the cost of “blue box” pick-up at stake, the town has no choice but to have a recycling strategy in place by year’s end.
The draft strategy unveiled at lat night’s open house presents numerous options to ponder. Ultimately, however, it comes down to what we are willing to pay and do to protect the environment.