My photo
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Elected as a Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for the Constituency of Saanich South on May 12, 2009. New Democratic Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Raised on Quadra Island and has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. Extensive track record as a community leader, advocate and environmental activist.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hartland Landfill, what a place!

After delivering my letters and "biobags" to the Saanich Municipal Hall I was off to the Hartland Landfill. I was a little afraid to see it up close. I was worried that I would feel hopeless and defeated when I saw all the garbage. But to my surprise, what I saw was pretty amazing!

I had a great visit with the Hartland Landfill Operations Superintendent Tom Watkins. He was completely prepared for my visit. He had studies to show me, facts to tell me and a real hands on view regarding disposable plastic bags. I had imagined that plastic bags would be everywhere around the area but this is not the case.

Tom took me out in his truck for a tour. We went all around the different areas and I was able to ask many questions.

I learned so much, but one thing that stands out is that plastic bags take up so little room in the landfill. They only take up less than 1% of the solid waste composition. This means that plastic grocery bags are not a volume problem.

I got to watch a few garbage trucks unload on the active landfill site. It was interesting to see the garbage inside a sea of plastic grocery bags, mixed in with all the other stuff that ends up at the dump. I saw many plastic bottles such as bleach bottles. It occurred to me that these should also have a deposit like pop cans. Tom told me that this is a Provincial Government Issue. ( I am going to look into how to approach that.)

So from this tour I have decided that plastic grocery bags really are not a landfill issue unless you consider that fossil fuel is used to make these bags and although they are safely buried at Hartland, they are a complete waste of oil and energy. I don't think this is a sustainable, responsible practice. But under the circumstances Hartland is handling it really well.

So now what? Is banning these bags in the CRD a reasonable thing to do? I would like to say yes. I would like to yell YES. But I can't quite do that yet. After seeing the many recyclable items that end up being buried at Hartland, I have to say that perhaps another approach is needed. Perhaps they should be banned. But first I think one of the most effective ways to change a behavior is through education and a deposit system. Why can't our BC government put a deposit on all items that should not end up as garbage? Why don't we ask them? I will add it to my list!

So that is it for today. I will share other information I learned another time.

Tomorrow I am on CFAX 1070am. Call in and have your voice heard.