By Chad Ingram
This column is about a digital application for waste disposal and recycling, which is a lot cooler than it sounds.
During their meeting last week, Algonquin Highlands councillors were given a demonstration of the Waste Wizard, an app the township will host on its website and which will assist residents with their waste disposal practices.
Hang on, it does get interesting, I swear.
If residents are unsure what to do about getting rid of a particular item, they can search for that item within the application and receive instructions. There’s an inventory of hundreds and hundreds of items on the app. The interesting part is that the app also provides, let’s call it advice, about reducing the amount of waste one produces.
If the material is something that can’t be recycled, the application provides suggestions for more environmentally sustainable options. Also, if the items are things that could be used by someone else, say clothing or furniture, it provides local locations where such items can be donated, rather than taking up space in the township’s landfill sites.
See? That’s the cool part.
Ostensibly the app should help to improve residents’ purchasing, recycling and reuse habits, which should in theory lead to increased diversion of waste from landfills, which should in turn contribute to lengthening the remaining lifespan estimates for those landfills.
Landfills and waste disposal are and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges for Haliburton County’s local governments. There have been a number of stories lately about the increasing cost of recycling as markets for recyclable materials crash. Within the county, lifespans for its existing landfills are in most cases down to a number of decades.
While continued improvement of sustainable production methods, recycling technologies, the introduction of legislation to make producers responsible for end-of-life care of their products, and improved behaviours can help to actually lengthen the lifespan of these facilities, the reality is within the next generation or two, the issue of waste disposal is going to come to a head in Haliburton County. Creating new landfills is an incredibly complicated, cumbersome and expensive process, so when the existing landfills reach capacity, that may means solutions such as trucking waste out of the community to incinerators in the GTA, which will also be incredibly expensive.
Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East councils have partnered on the purchase of the app, the cost for which is about $3,000 per year, split between the two municipalities. This is a nominal amount of money for any municipal government, and one that could potentially yield large environmental returns.
Minden Hills and Dysart et al should also consider using the application.