This week, the Region of Durham was recognized by Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) as one of the top performing municipalities in Ontario for diverting electronic waste (e-waste) from landfill. Our region has ranked fifth in Ontario, and has made important progress towards a goal of 70% diversion of waste from landfill.
Our progress since joining the OES’s recycling program in April 2009 is a testament to the people who live here and shows how much we care about our community.
A number of events and programs have been put in place around our region to make e-waste recycling as convenient as possible, including e-waste collection drives, the curbside collection program, and the new apartment and condo e-waste recycling pilot program have all played an important role in the success of e-waste diversion, but it’s the effort of our residents and businesses who use these programs that made the difference.
A visit to the Waste Management pages on the Region of Durham’s website turned up a number of programs to help people to reduce the amount of garbage that goes to landfill. The site demonstrates that the Region of Durham is very actively seeking alternatives to landfill, and has a number of programs as well as online resources and information to support these alternatives.
On the site you’ll find information about what programs are in place and any upcoming events such as e-waste collection drives or free compost giveaway days. The information about the programs includes what is accepted and not accepted through each program, details of how and when the items are collected, contact information for arranging pick up or obtaining other information, and related news releases.
The diversion programs currently listed on the site include ways to recycle a growing list of items that might otherwise end up in landfill:
- E-waste collection diverts not only the recyclable components of electronic devices from landfill, but also the many hazardous materials that these items contain, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, and others. More information about what is accepted, how it is recycled, and how to arrange for curbside pick up, can be found on the E-waste page on the Durham Region’s waste management website.
- Durham Region now collects porcelain toilets, sinks, bathtubs, etc for recycling (except in Oshawa and Whitby). Curbside collection available by appointment; go to the Porcelain page for contact information.
- Green bin composting keeps a wide range of food waste, paper fibre, and other compostable items out of landfill and instead turns it into nutrient rich compost for use in residential and commercial landscaping, sports fields and parks, and even for agricultural uses. The green bin program can handle many things that you normally wouldn’t compost in your back yard, such as meat, bones, and dryer lint, as well as some paper goods that you can’t recycle such as paper egg cartons, fast food drink trays, paper plates and cups, and soiled paper towels, tissues, and serviettes. Check the Green Bin page in the spring for information about compost give away events. You can also buy Durham’s Grade A compost at many local garden retailers.
- Blue box recycling diverts most small metal, glass, and plastic items, as well as paper and cardboard, from landfill. Items such as food and beverage containers (including paper milk and juice cartons), aerosol cans with lids removed, and empty metal paint cans with lids removed, can be recycled in your blue box, as well as most paper and cardboard. Go to the Blue Box page on the Durham Region website for more information.
- The leaf and yard waste collection program keep larger, bulkier organic waste, which can’t be collected in the green bin, from going to landfill. This includes seasonal organic material such as Christmas trees and jack-o-lanterns. The Leaf and Yard Waste page provides information on how to bundle yard waste and further information regarding what is accepted.
- Metal goods such as appliances, shelving, bike frames, and more, will be picked up curbside for recycling, by appointment. The Metal Goods page has contact information and information on what is accepted. Please consider donating metal goods in good working order to an organization that collects used items, such as Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or the Canadian Diabetes Association.
- Hazardous materials must be disposed of properly to make sure they do not harm the environment or get into our water. Some of these materials can even be recycled or reused. For example, useable leftover paint and stain is given away for free from the Paint Reuse Centre in the Waste Disposal Site in Oshawa. Hazardous waste can be dropped off at Waste Management facilities and are exempt from disposal fees if 100% of the load is hazardous materials (50 litre load restriction per day). You can dispose of expired medications this way, or at your local pharmacy through the Take Back program.
- Other materials that are being collected and recycled in Durham Region include used tires, which are recycled instead of being burned or landfilled, white agricultural bale wrap, which since 2005 has kept 85 tonnes of bale wrap out of landfill or burn barrels in the Region, signs made from corrugated plastic, plastic film, or paperboard (such as election signs and real estate signs) including their wooden stakes and wire mounts, and polystyrene packaging material (styrofoam); at this time the only kind of styrofoam being recycled is the bulky white packing material that often comes in the box with new consumer goods such as electronics.
The Waste Management website also contains some handy tools to help you in your efforts to reduce waste. Know Before You Throw is an online waste diversion tool that helps you figure out if something can be recycled or composted. The Residential Waste Collection Calendar allows you to search by your address, and tells you when your next blue box, green bin, garbage, and yard waste collection days are and how frequently they happen. And if you’re a new resident in Durham Region, there is an online New Residents Diversion Kit order form you can fill out to request your free blue box, curbside green bin, and kitchen green bin, which will then be delivered to your home within 15 working days.
The Region of Durham’s commitment to environmental stewardship is another reason why it’s a great place to live.
What are your suggestions for reducing, reusing, and recycling? Have you reinvented anything used into something new for yourself? Share your tips in the comments!