On Oct. 24, residents of Sackville began the transition to a new three-stream waste management procedure from the current wet/dry system. Eco360, a regional waste management commission, will implement the new system throughout southeast New Brunswick. This new method will require residents to sort trash into three categories: organics, waste and recyclables.
Many students and residents have voiced concerns and questions regarding the success of the wet/dry system in recent years.
Sackville town councillor Alison Butcher believes the new method is more intuitive than the wet/dry system and will help prevent unnecessary waste. “I see the new system as a positive change. We all have a responsibility to look after our planet. The [three]-bag system will mean less garbage going to the landfill, and that’s a good thing,” she wrote in an email.
“The two-bag system really was fatally flawed – it went under the assumption that all waste would fit into two clear-cut categories,” Butcher said. “What about diapers, used paper plates, empty yogurt tubes, or aluminum foil that’s been used for barbecuing?”
The new three-stream system will likely be more familiar to many students who come from out-of-province. Having grown up on Prince Edward Island, where a similar three-stream trash system exists, third-year environmental studies student Caitlin Gallant is excited about the change.
“My roommates and I are all from different provinces,” she said. “We would literally have fights in the kitchen about where garbage goes.”
Gallant said that effective garbage management is one of the most significant ways to create environmental awareness at the local level. “It’s not a glamorous topic like ‘Save the Polar Bears’. It’s not an issue that people want to talk about, but we deal with it on a daily basis,” she said.
Geography and environment professor Leslie Kern also found the wet/dry system counterintuitive when she moved to Sackville from Ontario.
“Moving here, I found it confusing that all of the recyclables and garbage went to the same place,” she said. Kern said that because of this, she believes the wet/dry system impacts how much waste goes into landfills.
According to Kern, “over time [the three-stream system] will become intuitive, but there’s going to be a steep learning curve for the first month or two.”
Third-year student Tina Oh has been working for the past two years to integrate the three-stream system into the town’s garbage management system. Oh said that Eco360 “has been working quite extensively with the communities within [their jurisdiction] to make sure that the system is a good alternative to the two-stream.”
Oh highlighted the importance of the town’s role, noting that it needs to provide “a very productive and efficient educational campaign for residents to know how to sort their garbage.” According to Oh, this could include informational pamphlets, garbage bags and consultation sessions.
Even under the new system, businesses and apartment complexes will still not be responsible for sorting their trash. Anna Mairs, a fourth-year geography student studying the local waste management system, said this lack of accountability is a major issue.
Under a Sackville bylaw, only residential buildings have to sort their trash, excluding apartments with more than four units. “Neither the landlord nor the town provides separate dumpsters [for the different bags], so all of the waste from these apartment buildings isn’t being sorted even if individual residents are [sorting],” Mairs said.
According to Gallant, this “is a huge structural failure.” She said that it is unnecessary for apartments and corporations to be exempt from sorting garbage.
Oh stated that Eco360 and the Town of Sackville could provide incentive to landlords to purchase multiple dumpsters, provide penalties through the distribution of fines or refuse to pick up improperly sorted trash.
Students looking to reduce landfill waste should purchase green bags for compostable organics, blue bags for recyclables, and clear bags for waste. Organics will be picked up weekly, and recyclables and waste will rotate on a two-week schedule.
More information about the new system and downloadable sorting guides can be found on Eco360’s website, eco360.ca.
Co-authored by Marley Caddell