AMHERST – The black garbage bag’s days are numbered – in Amherst, at least.
April 30 will be the last day opaque bags will be picked up. Starting in May, bags must be clear.
“The province has a mandated goal of 300 kilograms…,” said Jason MacDonald, director of planning and development for the town. He was referring to a Nova Scotia plan for reducing waste diverted to land fills. The goal is 300 kg per person per year.
We’ve got a way to go. MacDonald said the town average is over 500 kg. Statistics from other municipalities in the province indicate clear bags lead to a 30-per cent drop in solid waste, according to the director.
“Literally, all we’ve changed is the colour of the bag,” said MacDonald. Residences will still have a six-bag maximum, but the bags must be clear. A small privacy bag is permitted for each of the six larger bags.
“It’s in legislation,” said the director. The town must comply with the provincial directive or face consequences – although the government in Halifax hasn’t told Amherst what the punishment would be, despite a request for clarification. One clear penalty, though, is that a fine can be levied if compost is put into landfill.
Terry Rhindress, who sits on town council, said the province could deny capital grants for the dump, too, if the community didn’t comply.
Rhindress isn’t the policy’s biggest cheerleader, but seems to be grudgingly behind it. His first choice would have been an incinerator instead of burial.
“I think we could have burned a lot of it,” said Rhindress. As for six clear bags, that’s one clear bag too many. He wanted each residence to be allowed a single opaque bag and five clear.
He acknowledged the message that reducing landfill waste saves money. Dumps that are filled up quickly are dumps that need to be replaced at public expense.
“If we don’t (reduce), there’ll be no dumps…not enough room.”
One sticking point that remains for Rhindress, though, is his belief there’s a double-standard: that residences are required to meet a more strict standard than restaurants. The latter are taking steps, but it’s taking a bit longer, according to Rhindress.
“They’re coming,” he said.