One man’s garbage - is just another garbage

After a quick breakfast at the waterfront station food court one morning my wife found me, full tray of used cups, plates, napkins and food wrappers in both hands, standing in front of the garbage bins, wondering why I was in a trance.

In fact I was, mesmer­ized trying to figure out where I should put my garbage in. There were four bins: one marked “Re­cyclables” with a long list of items below it. The next was marked “Organics”, again with a long list of items. The third was marked “Non-Recyclables”, yet another long list of items below it. The fourth was an unmarked bin. I felt my blood pressure shooting up. This is just another ridiculous joke. Here I am, wasting precious time going through the lists try­ing to figure out which piece of rubbish goes to which bin. Sorry, I don’t feel like stupid today go­ing with this stupid joke, I told my wife. I dumped everything into the fourth bin.

Arriving home I found an en­velope from city hall containing a large attractively-designed sticker that says “Green Can”. Also en­closed was a nice full-coloured flyer that explained the mystery of the nice sticker. In essence it was a guide to the city’s newest joke - the green recycling program. How it works - they ask me to buy another large garbage bin (in other municipalities it must be a green-cloured bin) then put that sticker on the side of the bin. It then says that everyday I should collect compostable kitchen waste separately in another con­tainer of my choice - they suggest an ice-cream bucket - then at the end of the day transfer that waste into my green can - but first I must line that green can with lay­ers of newspaper.

On the designated garbage collection day I should now have three bins out the curb: the usual garbage bin, the recyclables bin, and now the latest addition, the green can. Of course, if I did some yardwork all yardwastes must be in another bin or in those kraft paper bags.
I thought that makes sense. Then I started reading the flyer, and it literally blew my mind. I have no more strength to type what’s in that flyer, so I thought I’ll just copy and paste it from the city’s program itself. Here it is:

What you can put into your green bin: meats and fish, bones and seafood shells, eggshells, pasta, bread, rice, dairy products, sauces, dressings, vegetables and fruit peels, seeds and pits, desserts, coffee grounds/filters and tea bags. You can also put pizza boxes, paper plates/cups (paper only, no stryofoam), paper towels/napkins, soiled paper egg cartons, food-soiled newspaper, paper bags and kraft paper liner bags used for collecting scraps. Items NOT accepted in green waste carts include: metal, plas­tics, glass or any recyclables, compostable or biodegradable plastic-type bags, diapers, pet waste/kitty litter, stumps, soil, rocks or sod, lumber or fencing.
If I haven’t bored you to death yet, read on. All recycling col­lected through the municipal pro­gram is sorted and only the con­taminants (materials not accepted for recycling in the program) are removed and sent to the landfill. Please help reduce contamination by separating your recyclables and only placing permitted items out for pick up. Then an explana­tion about commingled recycling, which says: commingled is when all types of recyclables (contain-ers, newsprint, & paper) are placed in the Blue Box together. The contents are either separated at the curb by the recycling truck operator or sorted at the process­ing plant. some municipalities do not have comingled recycling so better check first if yours does. However, cheese and other food items must be removed before recycling. Otherwise it will cause contamination of the cardboard. Only wrapping paper made of 100% paper can be recycled in your Mixed Paper container/yellow bag. Foil wrap, bows, cellophane, plastics, and styrofoam are not recyclable. Please separate reus­able paper, gift bags, ribbons & bows for later use.

If you still have a pulse there, keep on reading. Items that are banned from the garbage include: corrugated cardboard, newsprint, office paper, gypsum drywall, yard and garden waste, beverage con­tainers (all, except milk cartons), plastic Containers (1,2,4 & 5), glass jars, metal cans, aluminum foil and foil containers, blue box recyclables, lead-acid (car) bat­teries, medications/pharmaceu­ticals, paint, solvents, flammable liquids, gasoline and pesticides,
tires, oil, oil filters and empty con­tainers, electronic waste includ­ing personal computers, printers, TVs etc.

Then I thought about it. Who is ultimately benefitting from all these? I really don’t know, but I can only guess. My guess is that this whole program is be­ing contracted out. A contractor would collect all green wastes, turn them into compost, package them nicely, then sell it back to us as potting mix or fertilizer. And we could only guess who would be one richer too many.

On the next garbage collection day I thought about all these. I have only two bins: my usual gar­bage bin, and the blue recyclables bin. I put them all respectively in my two bins. Let those guys they pay sort them out. I already get stressed out as it is during gar­bage day making sure every­thing is out as we rush to work. My comprehension now ageing with my body I really can’t afford to waste whatever precious cells are left in my brains, and what­ever brain cells I still have, they’re definitely will be used properly, and definitetly they’re not going to garbage. So there.