Why Are We Wasting Our Waste?

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #3

Garbage incinerators don't generate energy they waste energy and natural resources. Incineration irreversibly destroys valuable materials and necessitates the consumption of the energy consumed in the extraction, refinement, assembly and transport of more raw natural resources to produce new products. Alternatives such as recycling, reuse, repair and composting conserve energy by efficiently using the energy already embedded in these materials we call now 'waste'.

A large part of the taxes collected by the Powell River Regional District goes into dealing with the area's 'waste'. Like all communities everywhere, dealing with waste is one of the most expensive issues facing our governments. Currently Powell River pays to ship its 'waste' to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in the interior desert region along the Washington-Oregon border much to profitable delight of both Augusta Recyclers at this end and Rabanco at the other.

Many studies have shown that about 90% of the content in the municipal waste stream could/should be being removed from the stream by recycling, reuse, repair and composting. Paying taxes to waste money on 'waste' is stupid. There's gold in them thar mounds of waste and our regional government, other governments and businesses everywhere, know it - that's why they are trying to overcome our wasteful habits and get on the ZERO WASTE wagon.

Plastic makes up a significant portion of our solid waste; however, wood waste from construction, demolition and renovation  is the single largest contributor to Powell River's 'waste' stream at about 40% of the total tonnage.  Next comes plastics close behind at about 30%. Then a broad range of organic - compost-able - stuff at about 20%.

The next few Mud Reports will concentrate on how each of these components are being successfully diverted from the waste stream in other jurisdictions while at the same time creating local jobs in each of them and saving taxpayers money - something for nothing is always a winning political strategy eh - and how those solutions are already starting to be applied right here in Powell River.