It seems nothing riles up Cumberland County, especially our municipal politicians, like good old-fashioned trash talk. You can raise our taxes and we will raise our eyebrows, but mess with how we dispose of our garbage, and you have a messy debate on your hands.
Case in point is the Town of Amherst’s dragging its feet when it comes to switching to clear bags for the disposal of all waste and recyclables. Amherst is the last of the county’s five municipal units to make the switch, and some councillors still seem to have concerns about it.
Why switch to clear bags? The province has targets to reduce the waste going into its landfills. By 2015, it would like to reach the goal of 300 kg of waste per person generated annually. The current average is 420 kg, and Amherst sits at a whopping 587 kg per person.
Switching to clear bags has resulted in a 20-30 per cent decrease in waste in other Nova Scotian municipalities, at no additional cost to the taxpayer. The Municipality of West Hants, for example, switched to clear bags about five years ago, and has since seen its waste reduced from 400 kg per person to 280 kg, already exceeding the provincial goal of 2015. That municipality’s waste reduction co-ordinator has credited much of their success to the clear bags.
The clear bag program is the cheapest and most effective way tio increase diversion of waste from the landfills, CJSMA solid waste manager Stephen Rayworth told Amherst council this week.
While the change may seem like a no-brainer, residents may have legitimate concerns. Some don’t want the garbage collector or anyone else seeing what they put in their trash. But that is why most bylaws allow for a small, coloured “privacy bag” for those unmentionable items.
Those with concerns should ask their friends in neighbouring municipalities, such as the county, which has been using clear bags for what must be a decade without any problems.
Amherst needs to get on board. Anything less is a waste.