Canada, Please Stop Exporting Garbage and Adopt a National Garbage Policy

Michigan formerly was Canada's main dump site. While the situation has changed, a coherent national garbage policy would be a wise move.

News Analysis / AWN Staff

A rarely mentioned but critical concern that needs to be addressed by Canada’s Federal Government is the embarrassment placed upon Canadians when it was recently revealed to the world that the federal government actually bought back multiple tons of Canadian garbage from the Philippines after their government refused to keep accepting it.

While Awakening News (AWN) addressed this matter once before, the AWN editorial team feels the issue needs to be taken to the next level.

Notably, the Philippines drama came about, in part, after the neighboring government of Michigan decided to stop receiving Canadian garbage from the city of Toronto in 2011—the most populous city in the most populous province.

That was a key factor in Canada opting to dump its waste elsewhere. And the Philippines, oceans away, became the improbable dumping ground.

But if you stand back and look at this issue objectively, it’s evident that Canada needs a National Garbage Policy.

Such a policy would include improved recycling strategies. It also would take into account all feasible ways of reducing the amount of waste in the production and distribution of perishable and durable goods in the first place. We pointed that out in our first article about this issue.

The process of developing a National Garbage Policy would logically include compiling a “report card” on all of Canada’s landfill sites, including how many sites there are, what their remaining capacity is, and how well they’re managed, along with the outlook regarding developing new sites or expanding existing ones.

But, again, reducing the generation of waste itself during manufacturing, processing, packaging and shipping goods should come first.

The report card also could include information on how much hazardous or toxic gas has, and still is, being emitted from landfill sites, as well as the seepage of toxic chemicals into our surface waters and ground-water aquifers.

In Orillia, that’s a big deal, since the municipal dump literally hugs the shore to Lake Simcoe and is also above the natural groundwater that extends inland beyond the shoreline. Via this link, see the AWN video and accompanying article we did in August 2017 regarding that issue.

IS DILUTION THE SOLUTION? 

Meanwhile, Canada, like all other countries, has been using the limited “solution to pollution is dilution” approach. But an important thing we tend to overlook is that over-mining of our aquifers to supply water for human consumption, be it drinking water (via big bottlers like Nestle of North America), or for growing food and industrial purposes, is contrary to the old idea of “the solution to pollution is dilution.”

Put another way, the seepage of landfill chemicals, herbicides, pesticides etc. into groundwater will be more toxic if the underground water supplies have been diminished from the huge draw-down of water by the big water bottlers, by flow-thru non-recycling fish hatcheries (water in, water out in large constant quantities) and due to urban development projects which pave over porous land and prevent rainwater from efficiently replenishing the aquifers.

WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?

To develop a National Garbage Policy, all levels of Canada’s governing system must come to the table. No longer can we allow individual local, provincial and federal agencies to say this problem “is not our jurisdiction,” a claim most Canadians hear way too often about various issues.

It’s not up to Michigan or far-flung locales like the Philippines to be Canada’s dump. Canada, with a population about 1/9th that of the U.S., must learn to responsibly clean up its act. Durable goods should be Canada’s chief export, not waste.  Yet, in the early 2000s, garbage was estimated to be Canada’s largest export by volume.

It’s helpful to recall that in 2003, at the height of Canada’s former garbage deal with Michigan, 142 trucks a day were making the trip to Michigan, hauling an estimated 10,000 tons of garbage daily. But as of Jan. 1, 2011, Toronto’s garbage began to be disposed of at the city-owned Green Lane landfill, near London, Ontario, according to the CBC.

“By 2013, the landfill gas generated and captured at Green Lane Landfill will be sufficient to produce approximately 10 megawatts of electricity, which is to be used to help offset the need for electricity from non-renewable sources,” a city news release said at the time, pointing to a way of managing landfills across Canada that would make sense as part of a national policy, provided groundwater is protected.