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We’re far ahead in recycling matters

September 16, 2009
I paid a visit back to the motherland land recently (read: Canada) and repeatedly told stories of how we can recycle almost everything here, at least in the capital area. Everyone I talked said vehemently, "We should be doing that here."
I cringed when I had to throw away something that was recyclable… My uncle called me an "ecoterrorist" at a family party when I redirected his recyclable garbage to another location. On more than one occasion, I filled a bag full of recyclables at my mom’s place and brought them to my dad’s place because they were not recyclable in the municipality where my mom lives. At least my conscience was lightened by being able to do so!
In Espoo, it is possible to direct recyclables to places like hypermarkets and shopping malls, which have installed collection points for things like glass, metal, batteries, energy waste and recyclable light bulbs. Hazardous waste is accepted (for free) at gas stations that have YTV hazardous waste containers. In Finland the return rate for bottles and cans with a deposit is something like 90 percent, one of the highest return rates in Europe. I mean, c’mon – why throw out your money? Recycling is highly recommended in Finland, but not obligatory.
Municipalities in Finland are way ahead in many matters related to the environment, including recycling and green energy alternatives. My mom visited here in April 2007 and asked whether the "slash" (the products of timber harvesting) was used for something else. In fact it is. Remnants of timber harvesting in Finland, including tree stumps are used in heat and energy production at power plants across the country.
Electricity generated from wind is still making inroads here with several new installations of turbines along the coast of the country, but it’s gaining ground at a steady pace. (Look for a blog entry on this in the future.) On that note, it was with much controversy that two 800 KW turbines were finally installed in Spring Bay on Manitoulin Island. What is taking Canadian companies and governments so long to adopt these kinds of technologies? Bureaucracy? Red tape? Oppositions? Who knows…
Things that have been going on here for many years are still in the discussion or pilot stage in Ontario. It’s baffling – stop testing and just do it! Test the results – not the possibilities! Parts of Canada still have a lot to learn – and learn from Finland they can! I read a good line in recent issue of Scientific American magazine, "Research & Development & Deployment" – says it all in one short line. We won’t get ahead or make improvements without deployment.
It’s hard to cram so many ideas into one short entry, so hopefully I can expand on this in the future.
See more on recycling in Finland and the capital area: (Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council waste management information) (Virtual Finland – Recycling industry reduces waste) (Brief profile of recycling and heat generation in Tampere) (The Environmental Register of Packaging PYR Ltd.) (Statistics on Packaging and Packaging Waste in Finland 2007)
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