Two online events are the inspiration this week.
The first was a virtual waste management conference in BC. Presentations focused on the changes the single use plastics ban announced by the federal government will bring.
Removing the single use plastics that pollute oceans and harm wild life is a good thing. Like many things however, several new issues arise. The topics included ‘what will replace single use plastics’ and ‘what problems will they create for recyclers’.
One problem with single use plastics is they are not recyclable.
Many of the new single use items being designed are compostable. This creates another problem for recyclers.
Compostable does not mean recyclable. They must be ‘recycled’ in a compost pile.
The second event was a webinar I attended about municipal composting. It was mentioned that the temperature inside the big piles of composting materials stays between 45 and 60 degrees Celsius even in the winter.
The connection between the two topics of discussion is this: compostable items such as plastic bags, eating utensils and coffee cup lids need a large composting facility.
I speak from experience.
We received a box of compostable coffee cup lids a couple of summers ago. I decided to put some in my compost pile. I’m glad I put just one package in. It took more than a summer for them to disappear into the black compost.
A small compost pile has lower temperatures and freezes in winter so compostable items take a long time to break down.
Composting large amounts of these new items will only be successful in large composting facilities. Otherwise, they will be garbage.
There are only ten licensed large-scale compost facilities in Manitoba. We need more.