Look around your physical world just for a minute. Is there a garbage can nearby? Of course there is. Now, is it empty? Does it contain anything you think is recyclable? Now, is there a blue box anywhere in sight?
Or perhaps, maybe your room is looking a little tired. The couch is 15 years old, and the carpet is a bit worn. It’s time for a change. So what are you going to do with them? Maybe put them at the curb and hope that a young college kid takes at least one of them? Otherwise, what now?
Because the question isn’t whether it’s possible to recycle the carpet. You can. Government regulation and business ingenuity have made that a no-brainer. The issue is whether or not you’re prepared to do it…whether you, the consumer, the taxpayer, the environmentally-friendly home and business owner…whether you are prepared to put that carpet in the system.
And what about your neighbours?
Does your local stockbroker get their day started at 4:00am with a commitment to reduce and compost their residential waste? Do they take the time at the end of the day, after the market closes, to make sure their garbage is properly sorted? Or do they leave that up to the housekeeper?
Or how about the single welfare mom with four kids. She does her best, but is source separating her waste a priority when the kids have to get to school?
With approximately 19.6% of the Canadian population living at or below the “low income measure,” it seems safe to say that too many people have little incentive to recycle and compost accurately and according to the rules.
Then again, when it comes to recycling, how different is the busy life of a soccer mom?
And what about the kids, all of whom are much younger than the blue box, who dutifully clear the table in the food court, and drop wrappers, cups, plates, and plastic utensils in the nearest garbage can.
This explains why the Canadian recovery rate hovers around 22-24%, almost unchanged over the past 20 years.
It also explains why the Conference Board of Canada ranks the nation’s overall environmental performance a “C” grade, placing it 15th out of 17 developed countries. Indeed, Canada’s waste generation record receives a “D” grade, positioning the country last out of 17 OECD countries.
This is your zero waste world.