Cleaning up Interlake communities

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Do you ever wonder what happens to the stuff you throw away in the garbage?

Once we throw things out, they simply go ‘away’ to be buried in a landfill, never to be seen again. As waste and pollution issues take precedence, businesses and individuals are looking for alternative ways to package, consume, and properly dispose of their products. Product Care Association comes in at the end of the product cycle to provide responsible product stewardship (recycling) solutions across Canada.

Background
In Manitoba, Product Care recycles paint, lighting products, and other select household hazardous waste including flammable liquids, corrosives, toxics and more. The organization is dedicated to protecting the environment by responsibly managing these products at their end-of-life, thereby diverting them from Manitoba’s landfills and waterways.

Some products, such as fluorescent lights, contain mercury, which is hazardous, if not managed properly. Though there is only a small amount in each tube, thousands of lights are replaced in buildings every year and many of these products end up in our local landfills – together, they add up. It is important to ensure that the mercury from these lights is not being disposed of in landfills where these substances can seep into our soil and groundwater and negatively impact the environment and our health.

2017 Interlake Pilot Project
There are approximately 250 waste disposal grounds and waste transfer sites across Manitoba. At some sites, operators stockpile the waste, unsure of what to do with it. Product Care offers several different solutions to household hazardous waste accumulation including one-time clean-ups, periodic clean-ups, single day collection events, and permanent collection sites.

In 2017, Product Care conducted a small pilot project in the Interlake region to clean out stockpiled household hazardous waste at nine waste disposal grounds and transfer sites. Three municipalities and one First Nation community participated in the cleanups including the Rural Municipality (RM) of Armstrong, RM of Grahamdale, RM of West Interlake and the Peguis First Nation. These communities were chosen because of their interest and leadership in the project, which was an essential component to the project’s success.

Randy Webber, the Manitoba field coordinator for Product Care, led the project alongside the municipal and First Nation facility operators and the public works and administrative staff.

“Stockpiles at the sites varied from a few dozen paint cans and aerosol containers to a full semi-trailer load of material,” says Webber. “In total, about 16,000 kilograms of household hazardous waste was collected from the nine sites.”

To help combat this issue, a permanent paint collection site has been established at Peguis First Nation, and the RM of Armstrong is in the process of setting up a second site in Meleb.
“The ultimate goal is to divert this material from improper disposal in the landfill,” says Webber.

The Manitoba Interlake is well serviced by Product Care with collection sites in Woodlands, Rosser, St. Laurent, Eriksdale, Arborg, Gimli, Teulon, Stonewall and Selkirk. Another site is in the process of opening in St. Andrews.

Remember: dumping or throwing hazardous waste ‘away’ hurts our planet and ultimately hurts our community by polluting landfills. If you know where your waste is going, you have the power to pick the safest ‘away’ possible by recycling your leftover hazardous products. Together, we can work towards a brighter and cleaner future for us all.

If you have products to dispose of including paint, lighting products, flammable liquids, corrosives, physically hazardous or toxics, please bring these items to a recycling location in your area. A full list of accepted products and recycling locations can be found at ReGeneration.ca. For more information on becoming a recycling service provider, visit ProductCare.org.

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