Merrickville-Wolford council received a petition at their council meeting on February 22, asking them to look into expanding recycling services in the municipality. The petition was launched in October, 2020, by Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford, a potluck action group with the goal of promoting sustainable living and combating climate change at the local level. Over the past few months, they were able to gather about 191 local signatures from both an in-person petition at Nana B’s Bakery and Healthily Ever After in Merrickville, and an online petition on Change.org. They also had several people from other communities sign the online petition to show their support for the effort.
The main goal of the petition is to have council look into expanding recycling in the municipality. Member of Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford, and long time Merrickville resident, Anney De Gobeo, says that the number of items that they have been able to recycle has dwindled over the years. Under the municipality’s current recycling contract with Limerick Environmental, Merrickville residents are unable to recycle items made of black plastic, milk and juice cartons, and tetra packs. “Those are all going directly into the landfill site,” Anney says.
In response to the petition, Mayor Doug Struthers suggested that council direct staff to prepare a report outlining what the senior levels governments are looking at in terms of recycling, and what the options are for the municipality. For example, the Province of Ontario is planning on shifting to a model where producers will be responsible for the entire lifecycle of their packaging by the end of 2025. “That might give us the opportunity of refocusing on what we’re doing now, what are things that we could do perhaps better, what we can do in regards to more, but, more particularly, what opportunities are going to be covered under the senior levels of government,” he said at the meeting.
Councillor Timothy Molloy suggested that staff also engage with Limerick Environmental to see if they are willing to expand the number of items they recycle as part of their contract. “If it’s something they can do, then great, we can get on board with that,” he said. “If it’s something they can’t do, then we may have to look at finding a provider that can give us a more functioning recycling program.”
The municipality’s current contract is renewed on a month-to-month basis, so Anney believes this is the perfect time to switch to a provider that offers more recycling options. Both Montague and North Grenville are now engaged with Emterra Environmental which takes a wider range of products. “A lot of the research has been done,” Anney says. “We’ve got two municipalities beside us here that have done the same thing, and recently. I’m sure that it would not be difficult to get that information from them.”
Anney is pleased that the petition sparked some discussion around the council table and that they seem to recognize residents’ wish to have a more robust recycling program in the municipality. However, she is hoping that the report doesn’t come back saying that they are going to wait another five years for the province to implement the producer responsibility model before making changes. “I’m hoping they don’t use that as an out. I’m hopeful that they are going to bring all the information to the table that was brought up in the discussion, and some serious discussions will come of them, and decisions made to make change.”
Council directed staff to bring the report back to council as soon as possible. CAO Doug Robertson said that he would have to consult with their Director of Operations, but staff would do their best to have the report ready for the next meeting in March.