Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Waste not, Mr. Klein 


Martha's Monthly January 2005

If you are anything like old Martha you celebrated the Holidays with a few friends, family, and maybe a gift or two. While Martha was un-trimming the tree, packing up the bows and balls, crushing some cardboard for recycling, and packing away the boxes and boxes of stuff, she got to thinking about all the waste at this time of the year. Once she’d stood in line at the tree recycling depot, the bottle recycling, and the cardboard drop-off she started to think there maybe something wrong with Alberta’s approach to waste diversion.

Martha knew that Alberta Environment had just announced a plan for e-recyling that will come into full effect in February 2005 with the creation of the first provincial electronic recycling program in Canada. The plan will see an environmental fee ranging from $5 to $45 added to electronics purchased in Alberta. If Alberta is leading the way in e-recycling are we leading the way in waste management too?

Hardly! The City of Edmonton won an honorable mention in 2003 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for a “comprehensive, integrated waste management program” that has seen increased “residential waste diversion…from 15 per cent in 1999 to 60 per cent in 2002.” (see 2003 Award recipients) But the rest of the province lags far behind in waste diversion. Some estimates place Alberta’s waste diversion at 15%, others say 21%. But compare that to Nova Scotia’s 46% (read about their groundbreaking work at GPI Atlantic summary)and Denmark’s nearly 90% and you can see that Alberta is diverting very little from landfills. ( Discussion paper on Ontario's Diversion plan goes into much more detail comparing diversion rates).

The Alberta government released their Municipal Waste Action Plan in August 2004. In it they admitted that they had diversion targets since 1989 of 50% but only reached 20%. They suggested their aim would be closer to 80% now. Alberta would like to reduce our per capita waste to 500kg per year. If that seems like a lot of waste you are right. Some organizations, businesses, and municipalities have already achieved much better. Many have targeted zero waste. Zero waste means instead of aiming for 500kg per person per year we would aim for 100% waste diversion. The group Zero Waste has a plan and they have (among others) The Beer Store, Xerox, and The City of Edmonton participating. The major change Albertans would see is curbside recycling with Blue Bags and no sorting required. This has been a major component of the success of the Edmonton plan. Martha likes the idea of no more line-ups at the depot and no more sorting at home.

So in this first month of the year when we make resolutions and recycle Christmas trees it seems only appropriate that we ask our government to aim a little higher and demand a lot more in terms of waste reduction and diversion. We call on Premier Klein and the Environment Minister, Guy Boutilier, to amend the Municipal Waste Action Plan to aim for Zero Waste and offer curbside recycling across the province.

Please send the following letter to Premier Klein at premier@gov.ab.ca and to the Liberal leader Kevin Taft at Edmonton.Riverview@assembly.ab.ca , the New Democrats leader Brian Mason at newdemocrats@assembly.ab.ca and Alison.Crawford@assembly.ab.ca , and back to us at marthasmonthly@yahoo.ca. You may also wish to send it to Minister Boutilier at fortmcmurray.woodbuffalo@assembly.ab.ca and your own MLA (check Contact list for MLAs).

Premier Klein

January 8, 2005

Dear Premier Klein:

I am writing in response to the Municipal Waste Action Plan released by Alberta Environment in August 2004. I think that it is critical that we revisit the targets you set in that document.

In the document targets are set to reduce waste to 500kg per person per year. I think this is still far too high. I believe that with government leadership this number can be reduced significantly. Some provinces, like Nova Scotia, have found that large investments in waste reduction have not only led to high waste diversion rates but have also led to more jobs and an improved economy. I want Alberta to be a leader in waste management and especially in waste diversion. I think we can aim for Zero Waste and because of that I ask that you direct the Minister of the Environment to set his sights higher than he has and immediately adopt a Zero Waste resolution similar to this:

“ The Province…should immediately establish a Zero Waste Task Force…. to help develop projects, milestones, and timelines, and to solicit public input to develop an aggressive long-term waste reduction strategic plan that will move the Province towards a zero waste future.”

Thank you for your commitment to programs like the E-recycling one. This program led me to think that your government would be committed to other similar ways to reduce waste. If all of Alberta had a curbside Blue Bag recycling program like the award winning one in Edmonton then we would take a huge step towards zero waste. Please add this to your Municipal Waste Action Plan and reduce the target from 500 kg per person per year. We can, and must, do much better.


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