The Forest City remains undecided on whether or not it will commit to a 60 per cent waste diversion action plan. The plan would see the city adopt food waste reduction initiatives, increase its recycling options and implement a green bin composting program.
While the need for these services can be argued, the fact remains that London’s W12A landfill has only seven years left until it reaches capacity.
WATCH: Trash talk London: Diverting waste in the Forest City
Stephen Turner is city councillor for Ward 11, as well as a member of London’s waste management advisory group.
He is one of many councillors seeking re-election during the Oct. 22 municipal election, and has spent the better part of his days listening to constituents while on the campaign trail.
“I think the number one question I get is, ‘why don’t we have a green bin system yet’,” said Turner.
“Before I was on council, I was the chair of an advisory committee on the environment… there was a provincial mandate of sorts that municipalities [achieved] 60 per cent waste diversion by 2008,” said Turner, speaking to the city’s waste history.
“It’s 2018 and we have 45 per cent waste diversion. We’re now talking about getting to 60 per cent three years from now,” added Turner.
“I think we’re well behind other cities… it’s really disappointing to see.”
While Turner maintains there is a need for waste diversion, he adds that the city should also focus its efforts on waste reduction.
“The Canadian average is roughly one third of all food ends up being wasted,” said Mike Bloxam, the community harvest coordinator for London Food Bank.
The project he coordinates, community harvest, reeled in 200,000 pounds of food for the food bank last year.
It works by connecting the food bank with a number of generous farmers looking to drop off their excess crops or any yield that may have impurities, which make them a hard sell for grocery stores.
“People expect a pepper to be sort of roundish. If you have that’s malformed, but is still perfectly edible food, a lot of grocery stores reject it,” said Bloxam
Along with the community harvest, a new food rescue project was launched in May of 2017. The project has the food bank collect excess or expired, yet edible, food from partnering grocery stores.
Bloxam is a supporter of the green bin program, but adds that there is another aspect of waste reduction that cannot be ignored.
“There’s also an educational component… people need to do better meal planning, so that you don’t have food waste at the end of the meal.”
In downtown London sits a storefront that occupies the old Novack’s building on King Street. The words “Reimagine Co.” can be seen through the window. Inside, a married couple who’ve been striving towards a zero-waste lifestyle with their family of five in tow spend their time keeping the store in operation.
“We’re a zero-waste demonstration space that provides workshops to the public free of charge, teaching them how to live a zero-waste lifestyle,” said Kara Rijnen, who co-owns the store with her husband, Heenal Rajani.
Zero-waste refers to striving towards waste reduction in everyday life. While zero-waste is certainly a goal, Rijnen stresses that small efforts can still make a difference
The store was made possible through Neighbourhood Decision Making, a local initiative that allowed Londoners to vote on citizen-submitted projects for different areas of the city. Reimagine Co. was on a winning ballot, and as a result received funding from the municipal government.
“We had high hopes when we put in our proposal for the vote,” said Rijnen.
“It’s been a surprise how many people really want to get involved.”
Speaking of her family’s zero-waste journey, Rijnen describes it as a “good challenge,” adding, “the kids love it sometimes and hate it sometimes.”
While Turner and Bloxam have expressed a need for individual action, and Reimagine Co. have helped foster exactly that, the city remains undecided on whether or not it will accept a 60 per cent waste diversion plan.
However, a public participation meeting is taking place towards the end of the month. On Sept. 25, city hall will invite Londoners to share their thoughts on the waste diversion plan, which includes the much-talked about green bin program.
The meeting is free to attend, but missing it might cost a landfill brimming with trash by 2025.