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Nelson: Calgary’s spreading garbage empire appears unstoppable

May 13, 2019

Undoubtedly, most folk have heard the expression a storm in a teacup. Well, here in Calgary we’ve a battle in a clamshell brewing. The item in question — a plastic container generally used to hold pastries and cakes — is a pain in the posterior for our gung-ho recycling warriors down at city hall.

Getting someone to take these items after Calgarians have done their duty by dropping them into their respective blue bins has turned into a logistical nightmare. So much so the city is spending about $300,000 a year just to stockpile the stuff until a solution can be found. (Hey, for a miserly 10 grand, I’ll store a bunch in my backyard.)

The simplest and quickest solution, of course, would be to bury the clamshells and other unwanted rubbish in a landfill on the edge of town, the way it was done for decades all across Canada. It’s not as though we’ve run out of land in this country, for heaven’s sake.

But my guess is such a blast from the past proposal will prove unacceptable to our more socially conscious councillors, so likely we’ll keep scouring the globe to find someone — anyone — who’ll accept this stuff as we continue spending taxpayers’ money on storage.

Not long ago, China would have taken the darn things as part of the huge piles of Canadian garbage they once happily accepted, but they’re now much pickier. Meanwhile, in the most bizarre recycling episode yet, the federal government is repatriating about 70 shipping containers full of rotting rubbish a Canadian company shipped inadvertently to the Philippines six years ago. Oh, and it’s supposed to be returned through the Port of Vancouver — that’ll please the Greenies in Lotusland.

Isn’t it slightly repugnant that we preen ourselves on being environmentally pure while sending our waste to poorer countries across the globe so their desperate citizens can pick through it to make a meagre living? That’s taking “not in my backyard” to extreme heights. (Don’t even mention the carbon footprint involved in sending waste by container ship across the Pacific — doubled, of course, when it gets shipped back years later.)

Somehow, the once simple local authority act of picking up household garbage each week has morphed into a mammoth industry, sucking up multimillions of dollars and yet still failing at the basic task involving the efficient and safe disposal of rubbish.

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