Tag-Archive for ◊ Recycling ◊

• Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Adam Werbach has been at the vanguard of the sustainability movement since high school when he founded a national organization of over 30,000 student volunteers who mobilized around environmental projects. A few years later, at the age of 23, he was elected the national President of the Sierra Club – the youngest in its 100+ year history.

In 2004, Adam turned the environmentalism movement on its head by publicly decrying its outdated thinking and lack of progress, given the scope of its mission. He challenged its followers to link their goals to other broad social and economic ones in order to have more impact.

Source: Peak Prosperity

It just does not make sense to constantly make new things from the things we have that are good. It doesn’t make us happy. It is expensive. The formal economy, in durable goods from toasters to bicycles to camping equipment to kids clothing to clothing, is about a trillion dollars a year in the United States  a trillion dollars a year. The informal market for that is much bigger. That means every time you borrow something from your dad, or you give maternity clothes to your sister, or you give a hand-me-down to someone else, or a neighbor borrows a shovel, that happens many, many more times than if you go to a store. It is decreasing, actually, because of the separation that we feel in the communities we live in. What ends up happening is, it is easier to order something on Amazon.com than to ask a neighbor and see if they have it.

What we haven’t seen is the same type of software technology and care and marketing, frankly, to the informal economy as we have in the formal economy. So when we start having the same things, you would expect to see when you go to Amazon.com to know when it is available, to see a picture of it, to be able to get it delivered. The things that you have in your friends’ closets, I think the world is going to start choosing that just because it is easier, it makes sense, it saves money. Actually, in the end, it is more fun to see your friends than to click around online. I actually think it is inevitable. The challenge is, we don’t yet have enough people throwing themselves into it. I think that is why the dialog we are having today is so important and what you are trying to bring about.

Things are the way they are because we made rules to make them like this. We have to change that. We change that with recycling. That has to be a step. Recycling didn’t exist 30 years ago in America. Now most people understand that you don’t throw away valuable resources. Reuse will similarly be a norm. In the same way, we spend lots of care buying things and bringing them into our home. We will understand that maintaining those things and putting them into other people’s hands will be similarly an important and well-respected pathway.

Category: Economics | Tags: , , ,  | 3 Comments
• Wednesday, October 03rd, 2012

Waste reduction week, MontrealEvents in Montreal for Waste Reduction Week, October 15-21:

  • On October 15th, the Coop Maison Verte is offering a workshop that will show you how to make your own household cleaning products. This workshop serves to emphasis Quebec’s official waste reduction week and provides another way for you to save money and reduce your consumption.
  • Sunday, October 21 from 10:00am to 2:00pm (Coop la Maison verte): Used bicycle collection and bicycle mechanics workshop
  • Cyclo Nord-Sud is collecting used bikes to donate to disadvantaged communities in developing countries in order to promote development and combat poverty. Donate your surplus bicycles (20 inches and higher, in a repairable state) to the 4th annual bike collection happening at the Coop La Maison Verte and give your old bike a second life! A donation of $15 per bike is required in order to allow Cyclo Nord-Sud to cover a part of the associated recuperation costs (transport, storage, etc.). In exchange, you’ll receive a tax receipt for the value of your bike and your $15 donation. In light of Quebec’s official waste reduction week, a bike mechanics workshop will be offered simultaneously (free, bring your own bike).
  • Computationis inviting the general public to drop off their unwanted computer equipment for reuse or recycling — free of charge. For larger quantities, organizations and pick-up service or data destruction requirements (such as shredding), please contact Computation.Computation is a computer equipment refurbishing, recycling, and IT service provider serving Canada  coast-to-coast from facilities in Montreal and Toronto since 2001.

    Drop-off is available at:

    • 7080 Alexandra St., Suite 101, from 10:00am until 6:00pm
      Monday through Friday, and Saturday 11:00am until 5:00pm.
• Thursday, July 19th, 2012

USA drought 2012Hasn’t the summer in Montreal been just wonderful? Many beautiful warm, sunny days with little rain. I love it.

However, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Our warm days have been replicated over most of North America. With so much summer sunshine and so little rain, 61% of the lower 48 states of the USA has been declared a drought zone, the largest natural disaster by size in the history of the country.

Here’s a good dose of gloom with a bit of humor to help us come back to the reality that many of the intractable problems facing humanity, or rather our civilization, are not going away and seem to be getting worse.

Source: Dimitri Orlov

Corn prices are up over 40%. These are the only terms in which we can perceive the phenomenon of crop failure; we can’t see, touch, smell or taste the corn, it has been reduced to just a statistic. And when there isn’t enough of it, you too will be reduced to just a statistic. How do you like the sound of that?

A lot of people don’t like that at all, and react, strangely enough, by using the word “unsustainable.” You see, everything would be fine if we made it sustainable, by recycling or putting up solar panels or driving electric cars or what have you. We need to transition to a sustainable future, and for that we need a transition plan. We’ve been following the wrong plan, you see—the plan to exterminate all life on earth—but with a new plan, one that leaves out the bit about the extermination, all that would change, right? Why doesn’t it occur to anyone that the human industrial monoculture is, if anything, a little too sustainable? It may well sustain itself right up to the point where it kills everyone. A bit less sustainability might be a wise choice at this point.

• Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

beer can molsonSource: Montreal Gazette

Returns for beer and soft drink cans will rise to 10 cents per returned item from five cents by the end of 2012 under a new five-year plan to deal with Quebec’s recyclable waste.

Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s minister for the environment, sustainable development and parks, added Sunday the province’s 30-year-old law on handling recyclable waste will be updated.

Every year, Quebecers buy 390 million cans and pay nearly $21 million in deposits on beer and other drink cans. The cans can take 200 to 500 years to decompose.

The government intends to spend $4 million this year to improve the treatment and composting of organic waste and similar dollar amounts in each of the other years of its five-year plan to deal with organic waste, a statement from Arcand and officials with Recyc-Québec, a government agency, explained…

…The new plan includes a public awareness campaign about disposable packaging and the promotion of a new recycling certification program manufacturers can use to label products made with recyclable materials. The plan calls for businesses, government agencies and municipalities to change their buying policies and include the purchase of recycled materials.

Category: Waste | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
• Wednesday, December 01st, 2010
Mayor Tremblay

Mayor Tremblay

The new 2011 $4.5 Billion Montreal city budget released by Mayor Tremblay has many goodies for car-free folk:

  • 8% increase ($32 million) to the STM and AMT for metro/train/bus service
  • $45 per car tax to further fund public transit (not really a benefit)
  • $28.3-million over 3 years to further develop Montreal’s bike paths

While these are good things, keep in mind that the city will still spend about $265 Million on roads, tunnels, road crossings, bridges and traffic lights!

There are also other nice sustainability perqs:

  • 245,000 high-volume recycling containers (which also help keep the recycled waste out of streets and sidewalks)
  • The construction of 5 large scale composting facilities by 2014 (despite NIMBY protests)

The biggest criticism I have is that the tax increase to pay for all these goodies is unsustainable. Home owners get hit with a 2.5% property tax increase which seems higher than current inflation (zero?). Why not zero tax hikes? That’s sustainable!

• Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Recycle KabukiThis article got me thinking about recycling which is one of the oldest, best-established environmental habits for everyday-folk to practice.

Is it really just a grand show that consumes more resources than it’s worth?

No matter your conclusion, the best course of action is to use less and throw away less before it has to be carried away by someone else to somewhere else.

Source: Boston Globe

Most of the stuff we throw out — aluminum cans are an exception — is cheaper to replace from scratch than to recycle. “Cheaper’’ is another way of saying “requires fewer resources.’’ Green evangelists believe that recycling our trash is “good for the planet’’ — that it conserves resources and is more environmentally friendly. But recycling household waste consumes resources, too.

Popular impressions to the contrary notwithstanding, we are not running out of places to dispose of garbage. Not only is US landfill capacity at an all-time high, but all of the country’s rubbish for the next 100 years could comfortably fit into a landfill measuring 10 miles square. Benjamin puts that in perspective: “Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch outside Bozeman, Mont., could handle all of America’s trash for the next century — with 50,000 acres left over for his bison.’’

Extra trucks are required to pick up recyclables, and extra gas to fuel those trucks, and extra drivers to operate them. Collected recyclables have to be sorted, cleaned, and stored in facilities that consume still more fuel and manpower; then they have to be transported somewhere for post-consumer processing and manufacturing. Add up all the energy, time, emissions, supplies, water, space, and mental and physical labor involved, and mandatory recycling turns out to be largely unsustainable — an environmental burden, not a boon.

“Far from saving resources,’’ Benjamin writes, “curbside recycling typically wastes resources — resources that could be used productively elsewhere in society.’’

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• Saturday, March 07th, 2009

In my experience, anything that is fast, cheap and easy to make is generally bad for human health, bad for the Earth’s health, and most likely both.

Styrofoam is one of the first modern pollutants (invented in 1938) that is considered a necessity of everyday commerce and agriculture. Yet at the same time, it pollutes us and the earth while these effects are not perceptible unless you visit a landfill or a polluted riverfront or beachfront. It is convenient that the inconvenient truth of plastics pollution is kept far away from the public eye.

This story in the Montreal Gazette hints at the nefarious affects of styrofoam but treads lightly. Most likely because major advertisers like Loblaws and Metro run ads in the Gazette. Alternatives are not really discussed which is strange. When I was a boy, 35 years ago, my mother would receive meat from the butcher wrapped in white paper.

The leading solution is an outright ban on the stuff. About 30 municipalities in California have done so to date. Recycling it is just a feel-good solution that shifts the problem to someone else, somewhere else. It currently costs about $3,000 per ton to recycle it – not exactly good business.

The story is quite long. You can read it here.

Category: Waste | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
• Thursday, December 04th, 2008

It’s time for Montreal and Quebec to develop it’s own local market for recyclables and not rely upon foreign, Asian countries to take our wastes.

Via: Hour.ca

Recycling will get dumped or have to be buried, quite literally, unless a solution is found to revamp the practice in Quebec.

The global economic crisis has drastically cut into what recycling companies earn for their recycled materials, and the resulting loss could end in our recycling being buried.

In order to avoid a backlog in the 38 recycling centres in the province, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line Beauchamp, has called on Recyc-Québec and Collecte sélective Québec to come up with an action plan in the next 15 days to help Quebec’s sorting centres deal with the crisis.

“The real question is ‘Can we afford to close our recycling centres?’ The answer is ‘no,’” says Karel Ménard from Front commun québécois pour une gestion écologique des déchets (FCQGED).

Last Friday, Beauchamp told Le Devoir that she has been aware of the difficulties facing Quebec’s recycling centres for the past three weeks – ever since China and India stopped their demands for recycled material to manufacture into new goods.

Mixed paper, metal, plastic and glass have gone from $150 to $40 a metric ton since September and in some cases processors are refusing to accept certain materials altogether. There is little money left to cover spending in equipment, workers and additional storage.

Groupe TIRU, the multinational that operates the integrated treatment and sorting of urban waste materials in Montreal is also in the mess. Owned by EDF (an energy company controlled by the

French government), they landed their contracts with both Montreal and Laval for a grand total of “zero dollars” per metric ton, says Ménard, expecting to generate revenues with the sale of the recyclables, often to developing nations.

Standards for Quebec companies are much higher than those in China. Most Quebec companies actually import used paper because recycled materials coming from Quebec don’t actually meet their standards, says Ménard.

Ménard and Beauchamp also agree we need to treat more of our own recyclables and improve the quality of recuperated materials, as well as our sorting practices, in order to make recycled materials conform to the norms of our own industries, which in turn must meet standards for export to the U.S.

“We must also admit that properly managing our waste materials has a real cost. [...] We can’t permit ourselves to backtrack 20 years after all this effort has been made to get every Quebec household recycling.”

In the next week, Beauchamp’s committee will recommend ways to improve the sorting and quality control of recuperated recycled materials in municipal sorting centres. Meanwhile, Ménard and the FCQGED have laid out the following recommendations for Quebec’s recycling industry in order to meet trying economic, and ecological, times.


Implement an elimination tax of between $10 and $40 a metric ton, paid by everyone, which is returned to the municipalities so they can run their recycling plants. Up the tax further for industries that pollute, so they contribute their fair share to the municipal collection of recycling. This would reduce the general quantity of material for recycling and provide municipalities with the necessary funds to support their recycling centres in tough economic times, says Ménard. (At present, municipalities have no rights over the nature or quality of the products put in circulation by industry, but are responsible for their collection and treatment.)


Enact a unified province-wide collection and sorting practice and execute a national campaign to sensitize citizens about recyclables. Remove certain irritants from the system, like plastic bags and wine bottles, items that contaminate other recyclables and reduce resale value (SAQ could institute a deposit return policy for their own empties).


Develop a viable recycling industry at home. Currently companies aren’t required to include the percentage of recycled materials in the goods they distribute or produce – whether papers, plastics or bottles. But we already have laws on environmental quality that could be used to create such standards.

To view the full set of FCQGED recommendations, go to www.fcqged.org.