Transcript: Life in the Waste Stream | Sep 01, 1990

(music plays)

Outside a diner, a man reads the paper, another man juggles and a magician plays tricks. The name “The science Café” appears in neon lights on one of the windows. Inside, the waitress shows a menu that reads “The Science Café proudly offers food for thought. Fragile Nature Forum. Life in the waste stream. Producer and director: Michael Kushner. Researcher: Nadine Galszechy.”

A caption reads “Lynn Deegan. Environmentally Sound Packaging Coalition.”

Lynn is in her thirties, with chin length wavy blond hair with feathered bangs. She wears a cream cardigan and a cream blouse.

She says PACKAGING CONTRIBUTES UP
TO 50 PERCENT, BY VOLUME,
OF THE WASTE STREAM.
AND THE ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND
PACKAGING COALITION BELIEVES
IF WE ARE GOING TO TURN OUR
WASTE GENERATION AND DISPOSAL
PROBLEM AROUND, PACKAGING
IS THE PLACE TO START.

The caption changes to “Joanna Kidd. LURA Group.”

Joanna is in her early forties, with short wavy brown hair. She wears a striped sweater and a delicate silver necklace.

She says THE PROBLEM WITH GARBAGE IS
NOT GOING TO BE SOLVED BY
GOVERNMENT, AND IT'S NOT GOING
TO BE SOLVED BY INDUSTRY.
IT'S ONLY GOING TO BE
SOLVED WHEN WE ALL TAKE
RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR
PART OF THE PROBLEM,
AND DO SOMETHING
TO MAKE IT BETTER.

The caption changes to “Robert Redhead. Tricil/Limited.”

Robert is in his mid-forties, clean-shaven and with short straight brown hair. He wears glasses, a blue suit, pale blue shirt and patterned tie.

He says I FEEL OPTIMISTIC
ABOUT OUR FUTURE.
I THINK THERE ARE
OPPORTUNITIES TO DO THINGS.
OUR COMPANY IS INVOLVED IN
MANAGING HAZARDOUS WASTE
AND OTHER WASTE.
I THINK THERE ARE
OPPORTUNITIES TO APPLY
TECHNOLOGY TO A NUMBER
OF FRONTS TO PROTECT OUR
ENVIRONMENT IN THE LONG TERM.

The caption changes to “Tracy Patterson. Ontario Waste Management Corporation.”

Tracy is in her mid-thirties, with short wavy brown hair. She wears a black turtleneck sweater.

He says WELL, THE CONSUMER HAS A LOT
OF POWER BECAUSE THEY HAVE
THE PURCHASING POWER.
AND MANUFACTURERS AND
RETAILERS ARE CONCERNED
ABOUT THE BOTTOM DOLLAR.
SO IF THE CONSUMER GOES INTO A
GROCERY STORE AND SAYS I'M NOT
GOING TO TAKE THIS BECAUSE
IT'S GOT THE EXCESS PACKAGING,
OR I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS
BECAUSE IT HAS THE HAZARDOUS
INGREDIENTS, I WANT THE SAFER,
MORE FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES,
THE MANUFACTURERS ARE
GOING TO COUGH IT UP.

A fast clip shows images of a landfill.

Lynn says CANADIANS PRODUCE, PER
CAPITA, 2.2 KILOGRAMS OF WASTE
PER DAY, RANKING THEM AS
THE TOP WASTE GENERATORS
OF THE WORLD.
IT'S INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT
TO SITE LANDFILLS CLOSE
TO URBAN AREAS.
THAT MEANS THAT THE COST OF
LANDFILLING IS ON THE RISE
BECAUSE WE HAVE TO TRUCK
GARBAGE FURTHER DISTANCES AWAY.
PUBLIC IS NEGATIVE ABOUT
INCINERATION, AND IT'S A VERY
COSTLY ALTERNATIVE TO
DISPOSAL, AS WELL.
THE THREE Rs OF WASTE
MANAGEMENT ARE REDUCE, REUSE,
AND RECYCLE, IN THAT ORDER.
FIRST YOU WANT TO REDUCE THE
AMOUNT OF EXCESS PACKAGING
AND OVERPACKAGING.
MONO MATERIAL PACKAGING IS
MUCH BETTER FOR RECYCLING THAN
MULTIMATERIAL PACKAGING.
ANY CONTAINER THAT IS MADE
OF ONE MATERIAL IS EASIER TO
SEPARATE AT SOURCE
AND RECOVER.

Fast clips show images of goods packaged individually, such as batteries.

She says IF YOU HAVE A PRODUCT, A
PACKAGE THAT IS MADE OF
SEVERAL LAYERS OF MATERIALS,
YOU CAN'T SEPARATE IT
VERY EASILY.
A LOT OF THE PLASTICS ON THE
MARKET ARE LAMINATED PLASTICS,
AND THEY CAN HAVE UP TO
SEVEN LAYERS OF PLASTICS.
THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT
FOR RECYCLING.
WE'D LIKE TO SEE A MOVE
TO REUSABLE PACKAGING,
REFILLABLE PACKAGING.
WE'RE SEEING BULK BUYING
OPPORTUNITIES, AND THAT IS
ONE WAY THAT WE CAN
REDUCE PACKAGING.
RIGHT NOW, WE'RE SEEING
A LOT OF THE BULK BUYING
OPPORTUNITIES ARE STILL
USING PLASTIC BAGS.
IT WOULD BE NICE IF WE
COULD USE REFILLABLE BAGS.

Fast clips show images of people buying goods by the pound.

She says WE'D LIKE TO SEE PACKAGING
THAT IS ACTUALLY BEING RECYCLED.
THAT THERE IS THE TECHNOLOGY FOR
RECYCLING FOR THAT PACKAGE.
ANYTHING CAN BE RECYCLED IF
YOU THROW ENOUGH MONEY AT IT.
BUT THE QUESTION OF VIABILITY
IS VERY IMPORTANT WHEN YOU
CONSIDER RECYCLING.
STANDARD RECYCLABLES ARE
GLASS, TIN CANS, NEWSPAPERS,
AND ALUMINUM.

Fast clips show images of a recycling plant.

She says RECYCLED PACKAGING WOULD
ENSURE THAT WE ARE NOT
WASTING OUR RESOURCES.
THE RESOURCES THAT WE USE TO
MAKE PACKAGING WOULD IN TURN
BE USED AGAIN TO MAKE
THAT SAME PACKAGING.
IF YOU HAVE A GLASS CONTAINER
THAT IS GOING TO BE CRUSHED
AND MADE INTO ANOTHER
GLASS CONTAINER, THAT IS
TRUE RECYCLING.
CASCADING HAS BEEN USED TO
CHARACTERIZE WHAT HAPPENS TO
PLASTICS WHEN THEY ARE
RECYCLED BECAUSE THE END
PRODUCT IS NOT OF THE SAME
VALUE OR QUALITY OF THE
INITIAL PRODUCT.
YOU COULDN'T RECYCLE IT
BACK INTO A CONTAINER.
AND THERE ARE VARIOUS
REASONS FOR THAT.
YOU WOULD HAVE AN ABSORPTION
OF THE FOOD PRODUCT, AND
CONTAMINATION WOULD RESULT
IF YOU WERE TO USE IT FOR
ANOTHER FOOD PRODUCT.
THIS IS PARTICULARLY A PROBLEM
BECAUSE 58 PERCENT OF ALL
PACKAGING IS FOOD USE, AND
YOU CANNOT RECYCLE FOOD USE
PLASTICS INTO MORE
FOOD USE CONTAINERS.
WITH GLASS, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE
CASCADING BECAUSE A GLASS
CONTAINER CAN BE RECYCLED
INTO ANOTHER GLASS CONTAINER.
THE ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND
PACKAGING COALITION BELIEVES
THAT MANUFACTURERS SHOULD BE
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CRADLE
TO GRAVE MANAGEMENT OF THE
PRODUCTS THAT THEY PUT OUT
ON THE MARKET.
AND WE ARE INVOLVED IN
DISCUSSIONS WITH INDUSTRY AND
WITH GOVERNMENT, AND WE'RE
HOPING THAT BY BRINGING THE
CONSUMER AND ENVIRONMENTAL
VOICE TO THESE DISCUSSIONS,
WE WILL CREATE A BALANCE.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE
ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS PRESENT,
AND CONSUMERS HAVE
A LOT OF CONCERNS.
THEY ARE ULTIMATELY THE ONES
THAT CAN TURN THIS CRISIS
AROUND THROUGH THEIR
PURCHASING BEHAVIOUR.

Joanna says IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE, I
THINK, TO HAVE, SAY, A WASTE
MANAGEMENT MASTER PLAN THAT
WOULD SATISFY EVERYBODY.
IT'S JUST NOT POSSIBLE.
BUT IF YOU END UP WITH A PLAN
THAT SATISFIES THE MAJORITY
OF PEOPLE IN THE AREA, THEN I
THINK YOU'RE DOING VERY WELL.
AND CERTAINLY THAT'S MUCH
BETTER THAN A PLAN THAT
ALIENATES EVERYBODY
IN THE AREA.
THERE'S NO WAY WE CAN DEAL WITH
GARBAGE AND NOT HAVE IT BE A
PROBLEM AT ALL FOR US.
SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, IS GOING
TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE
STUFF WE CAN'T REDUCE,
WE CAN'T REUSE, WE CAN'T
RECYCLE, AND WE
CAN'T COMPOST.
IT'S GOT TO GO SOMEWHERE.
THE BEST WAY IS NOT TO CREATE
IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
AND THAT'S THE AREA I SEE IS
THE MOST DIFFICULT TO TACKLE
WHERE THE WORK REALLY
ISN'T BEING DONE.
WE CREATE TOO MUCH, AND THE
PRESSURES FROM THE GARBAGE
WE CREATE WHEN WE DISPOSE OF
IT HAVE TOO GREAT AN IMPACT
ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
AND WHEN YOU START TO LOOK AT
THE PROBLEM FROM A MUNICIPAL
SCALE, WHERE IN METRO TORONTO,
FOR EXAMPLE, THEY'RE GOING TO
HAVE NOWHERE TO PUT THEIR
GARBAGE IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS.
IT IS A MAJOR,
MAJOR PROBLEM.
AND I THINK THESE KIND OF
PROBLEMS CAN SOMETIMES REQUIRE
QUITE DRASTIC MEASURES.
I HAPPEN TO BE VERY
OPTIMISTIC THAT WE CAN SOLVE
THE PROBLEMS THAT WE ARE
CONFRONTED WITH THROUGH YOU
AND I CHANGING, FIRST OF
ALL, HOW WE VIEW THE WORLD,
AND SECOND OF ALL,
HOW WE BEHAVE IN IT.
UNDERSTANDING THAT WE ARE
PART OF THIS ECOSYSTEM.
WE HAVE TO LIVE HERE, TOO.
AND IF WE WANT TO, WE'RE GOING
TO HAVE TO CHANGE THE WAY
WE'VE BEEN TREATING IT.

Robert says ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE HAVE
IS TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND
THAT TO PUT THINGS IN PLACE
TO TREAT WASTE IS IMPORTANT
FOR THE LONG TERM.
WE'RE FAIRLY BLASE ABOUT
MUNICIPAL GARBAGE.
WE PUT IT AT THE END OF THE
DRIVEWAY, IT DISAPPEARS,
EITHER ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK,
DEPENDING ON HOW FORTUNATE
WE ARE.

A fast clip shows garbage being picked by the garbage collector.

Robert says ON THE HAZARDOUS WASTE SIDE,
MOST OF THOSE MATERIALS ARE
NOT BEING DIRECTLY LAND FILLED
IF THEY ARE LIQUID IN NATURE.
SOME SOLID WASTES ARE.
BUT THERE ARE TECHNOLOGIES
TO TREAT THESE THINGS.

A fast clip shows hazardous waste being manipulated.

Robert says DEPENDS ON THE NATURE OF
THE WASTE HOW YOU WOULD
BEST TREAT IT.
INCINERATION IS ONE FOR
THINGS THAT WILL BURN.
FOR THOSE THAT WON'T,
THERE ARE OTHER TREATMENT
NEUTRALIZATION STEPS, THAT
SORT OF THING, DETOXIFICATION
THROUGH CHEMICAL PROCESSES.
IN ONTARIO, WE CURRENTLY HAVE
A PROGRAM CALLED A MANIFEST,
GENERATOR REGISTRATION.
IT'S ALL REGULATED UNDER
REGULATION 309 OF THE
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT.
THIS TRACKS AND CONTROLS
HAZARDOUS WASTE VERY CAREFULLY.
IN FACT, MORE THAN
HAZARDOUS WASTE.
ANY LIQUID INDUSTRIAL OR
HAZARDOUS WASTE IS SUBJECT
TO THIS REGULATION.
FROM A HOME POINT OF VIEW,
PAINTS AND SOLVENTS CAN ALSO
BE A PROBLEM.
THE FIRST ADVICE WOULD BE
TO BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.
AFTER THAT, THESE THINGS
SHOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM THE
NORMAL GARBAGE STREAM, NOT PUT
INTO THE GREEN GARAGE BAG.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
MUNICIPALITIES NOW THAT ARE
PROVIDING WHAT ARE TERMED
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS
WASTE DEPOTS.
THESE ARE PLACES WHERE THE
WASTE CAN BE TAKEN AND BE
PROPERLY MANAGED.
THE MAJOR CHALLENGES WE HAVE
ARE TO HAVE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND
THAT THE TECHNOLOGIES THAT
ARE BEING APPLIED ARE SAFE,
CAN BE SAFE, WHEN
PROPERLY OPERATED.
THERE ARE WAYS OF TREATING
THE WASTE WE PRODUCE, BOTH
HAZARDOUS AND NON-HAZARDOUS.
THAT'S STILL THE
BIGGEST CHALLENGE.
THE TECHNOLOGY EXISTS.
IMPLEMENTATION
IS THE CHALLENGE.

Tracy says MOST OF THE HOUSEHOLD
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS YOU FIND
IN YOUR HOME ARE IN AND
AROUND THE KITCHEN AND
IN THE BATHROOM.
THINGS LIKE DRAIN CLEANERS,
OVEN CLEANERS, FLOOR AND
FURNITURE POLISHES.
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS
CAN BE DANGEROUS BECAUSE THEY
CONTAIN CHEMICALS THAT ARE
TOXIC, OR EXPLOSIVE, AND THEY
CAN HARM BOTH HUMAN HEALTH AND
THE ENVIRONMENT IF THEY ARE
NOT TREATED AND
DISPOSED OF PROPERLY.
AS AN INDIVIDUAL, IF I ASSESS
WHAT I DO AT HOME, AND THE
PRODUCTS THAT I USE AT HOME,
AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE
ENVIRONMENT, I CAN
MAKE WISER CHOICES.
I CAN, INSTEAD OF USING THAT
WINDOW CLEANER, USE VINEGAR
AND WATER, AND INSTEAD OF
FURNITURE POLISH, I CAN MIX
LEMON JUICE WITH VEGETABLE OIL
AND USE THAT, AND IT WORKS
JUST AS WELL, IF NOT BETTER,
THAN THE COMMERCIAL PRODUCT.
WE ARE AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR.
WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
AND WE ALL HAVE TO GET
TOGETHER TO DO THIS.
I THINK IF EVERYBODY GOT
TOGETHER, WE COULD
MOVE MOUNTAINS.
AND WE MUST DO THAT BECAUSE
THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH
AND LIFE AS WE KNOW IT ON
THIS PLANET DEPENDS ON IT.

(music plays)

A slate appears with the caption “For more information, write to ESP Coalition. 2150 Maple Street. Vancouver, British Columbia. LURA Group: 720 Bathurst Street, Unit 403. Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4. Ontario Waste Management Corporation. 2 Bloor Street West, 11th Floor. Toronto, Ontario M4W 3E2.”

Another caption reads “A production of TV Ontario. The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. 1990.”

Watch: Life in the Waste Stream