Burning Issues Fire Landfill Rethink: MULVIHILL

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Landfills are filling up quickly, so what does Ottawa City Council do? The obvious, of course.

In June 2023 council voted to limit garbage bags, bins and containers to three and that change is effective on Sept. 30. Despite having years develop a viable solution to effectively deal with garbage, this is the best they’ve got.

The city is expanding rapidly. With residential development, comes garbage. Lots of garbage. So, where do the highly paid executives at city hall think the excess garbage will go? Do they think people are going to store it at their homes? Think again. Bags of garbage will be tossed in bushes, along dead-end roads, in commercial bins … you name it.

It just baffles how other countries could develop an alternative to landfills but this city can’t seem to wrap its head around incineration. Other countries can manage to create a form of energy from rubbish. Sweden, for example, incinerates nearly all of its non-recycled waste to generate electricity and heat. Incineration does emit CO2 but Sweden believes it is far better for the climate than landfills. According to the International Solid Waste Association, 40 per cent of worldwide waste is thrown into open, uncontrolled dumpsites. Landfill decomposing trash also accounts for sending climate-changing methane into the atmosphere. At least 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions will result from  the world’s landfills by 2025.

To name a few, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland incinerate garbage but the City of Ottawa just gives us another landfill.

Donna Mulvihill is a community activist and former hospital coordinator.


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1 Response

  1. Theresa says:

    Donna, we need to move away from being a throw-away society to buying more durable products (and pressuring businesses to build better quality items (like they did back in the last century)), repairing and re-using stuff and minimizing our use of single-use items. Europe is moving away from incineration, because it perpetuates unnecessary strain on our natural resources, which we’re already consuming at an unsustainable rate — every year we extract almost 90 billion tons of biomass, fossil energy, metal and minerals from the earth – more than 11 tons for every single person on the planet (source: The World Counts). The City has rightly placed responsibility for garbage where it belongs — on us consumers. We need to educate people to ensure they comply with the new regulations, and monitor and enforce the rules re: littering.

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