Fort residents produce more waste than average – Also tend to recycle less

Duane Hicks

Recently-released data from Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) indicates Fort Frances residents generate more waste than the provincial average—and recycle far less.
While the average Ontario resident generates more than a kilogram of waste every day, or 385 kg a year, the average person here was responsible for about 419 kg of waste in 2007, ranking the town 146th out of 206 municipalities in waste generation.
On the bright side, this amount of trash is far less than some other communities, such as the Township of Archipelago in central Ontario where the waste produced added up to almost 1.5 tonnes per person.
Meanwhile, Fort Frances ranked 184th in Ontario in terms of recycling, with residents having diverted only 14.3 percent of their trash from going to the landfill in 2007—almost 25 percent under the provincial average of 39.2 percent.
In 2007, 374 tonnes of marketable recyclable material were collected during “blue box” pickups from 3,800 households here.
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said yesterday the town’s recycling numbers got a little better in 2008, with residential diversion now over 15 percent.
The tonnage of recyclable materials collected during “blue box” pickups also has increased to 454.23 tonnes—a jump of over 80 tonnes.
While those numbers still aren’t near the provincial average, Brown noted there’s several factors to consider. And because each municipality runs its own recycling program its own way, it’s hard to make direct comparisons.
For example, while Fort Frances, Kenora (which diverted 29.7 percent of its waste, ranking them 93rd), and Dryden (31.89 percent, ranked 84th) use a “bag tag” system which does seem to encourage more people to recycle, Fort Frances gives its residents one free bag each week.
“Our diversion rate could go up if town council didn’t give that free can away because some of that stuff is recyclable,” argued Brown. “We’d divert more the landfill site if we did that.”
Another example is Dryden places a premium on “blue box” materials going to its landfill site.
In other words, if someone wants to drop a truckload off there and some of that load is comprised of recyclables, they pay 50 percent more for that load, thus discouraging people from throwing away recyclables.
Brown noted council here has opted not to do that, either.
Brown said the town is applying for a grant to enhance its recycling program in 2010, including the building of a 24-hour recycling depot, where residents will be able to drop off recyclables whenever they want.
“I think the access will make a difference,” he remarked.
But some factors are out of the town’s control. While some communities in southern Ontario may have community compostors, for example, Brown said such a thing is “hard to implement in a town our size—we just don’t have the volume.”
“Our program at curbside is probably a bit below what’s happening in the south because they do have these different streams, like the organic stream, and you just can’t get to 60 percent diversion [WDO’s target diversion rate] unless the organic stream is there,” he reasoned.
“We’ll never do it with curbside pickup.”
The Town of Mono, a community of 7,200 people in south-central Ontario, had the best diversion rate in the province at 54.69 percent. The Sault North Management Council ranked 206th, with a 1.94 percent waste diversion rate.
Elsewhere in Northwestern Ontario, the Township of Atikokan ranked 144th out of 206, with a waste diversion rate of 20.9 percent, while Thunder Bay ranked 147th, with a 20.6 percent diversion rate.
The Township of Emo ranked 191st, with a rate of 13.17 percent, while Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls had a rate of just 12.55 percent, ranking 194th.
Environment minister John Gerretsen said Tuesday that larger municipalities create the bulk of the province’s trash, but they also have better diversion rates because they offer more opportunities to recycle.