Back in the mid 2000s, I began to get concerned about how much garbage our society was producing, how many resources we were using up and how much our environment was becoming littered. I was soon invited to join the board of a newly forming group called “Zero Waste Simcoe”. That was when it first struck me that the way to address these concerns was to eliminate garbage.
In late 2007, the board was excited about proposed changes to Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act under the leadership of the then Minster of the Environment, John Gerretson. We were particularly impressed with the idea of Extended Producer Responsibility. However, the government’s plans were soon put on the back burner as the recession came and the minister was replaced.
For the next few years, Zero Waste Simcoe continued to advocate for zero waste practices at the county and provincial level and reached out to a variety of organizations in the community to educate groups and individuals about how they could reduce the amount of garbage they produced. However, as members of the board became more involved in other activities, Zero Waste Simcoe eventually disbanded.
Now that the province has passed the new Waste Free Ontario Act, two former Zero Waste Simcoe board members, Sandy Agnew and I, are pleased to be part of the team organizing the June, 2017 Zero Waste Ontario Conference in Orillia. I am particularly excited about the new act’s emphasis on Individual Producer Responsibility. Through my research I have learned about many innovations in compostable materials, collection processes and recycling techniques that will help bring about the circular economy envisioned in the province’s new act.
When I first began speaking about the idea of Zero Waste, I was told it was a “pie-in-the-sky” idea, but I pointed out how far our society has come in the last 40 years in terms of smoking in public. It is my hope that we can make the same type of dramatic changes in the field of waste elimination.