Garbage can be compared to mixing flour and sand, don’t ask me why you would want to do it but work with me here. Each part can be very useful and is valued individually, but together it’s a difficult to separate mixture that has a lower value. In most cases this combination would be tossed because of the difficulty associated with useful purification.
The effort to separate the parts involved may not be seen as economically viable. Imagine it was the last pound of flour on earth and you were starving. You might even risk eating the sand at that point!
Sorting your waste can actually be a viable process but do we really know where it goes and where it ends up? I often wonder if my efforts are mounting up to something or if they are just mounting up to a mountain of garbage?
When you're done with something, whether it's packaging, construction/destruction materials or even an old toaster; there's a place for it and possibly a continued life.
We live in a world of finite resources – this is a fact that cannot be argued. The resources are, limited “new” materials as well as lingering “old” ones, which begs the question how do we make old new again?
In Montreal, there are separation centres, which handle all kinds of refuse from regular recyclables to hazardous materials; they’re called ecocentres. Any resident of Montreal can dispose of basically anything and be assured that what can be recycled or reused will be and what can’t will be processed appropriately from there on. There is no direct cost associated with the use of the disposal centres unless you use it as part of your industry like a construction worker. The seven local ecocentres help refuse avoid the place whose name shall not be named…the landfill.
There are designated places for wood, recyclable construction materials, non-recyclable construction materials, concrete, soil, compost, metals, batteries, electronics, and waste chemicals such as paints or solvents. They even have a pilot program for collection of polystyrene.
The metals can be easily melted down and transformed as they continue their adventure. Wood products can be chipped or milled into secondary wood products like MDF (medium-density fiberboard) and chipboard or even turned into pulp for the paper industry.
Not everything at the eco-centre has to be ground up or melted down, you can bring clothing and accessories for donation, as well as any functional items or furniture that you want to discard but could be a gem for someone else as these are donated to a second hand store.
These centres don’t eliminate garbage altogether, 70% of what comes is reprocessed and avoids the landfill while the rest doesn’t make the cut.
If you’re lucky, you may see garbage, recycling, and compost pick-ups in your neighborhood but I doubt you’ll start seeing battery or e-waste specific collections door to door. With a little effort on your part you can make sure they don’t end up in a buried heap taking up space on our precious land.
Don’t get me wrong, there is room for improvement but if we looked back and could easily remove 70% of what is already in our landfills, I think we would see the impact that these kind of projects can have on our communities.
A colleague once asked me, “What’s the point of recycling? It’s just to make you feel good about yourself.” I would whole-heartedly disagree and so would companies now turning a profit off of your “garbage”.
A little effort goes a long way; a lot of effort may just change the world.
Thomas Di Nardo