I’ve been having trouble with the whole concept of recycling in the North lately. As in: is it really a good idea?
The first two R’s I have no problem seeing the value of: reduce and reuse. Yeah, they just make sense on so many levels.
But recycle? In some ways, it doesn’t seem to fly for the far North. For example, I’m having trouble grasping how the concept of shipping garbage thousands of kilometres to undergo a toxic material retrieval process makes sense. It seems we’re just trading visible garbage (landfill) for invisible garbage (air pollution).
I’ve been doing some research on the subject but have come up largely empty handed. Does anyone know of any research that has been conducted on the subject of long-range recycling and its effects on the environment?
I’m particularly interested in learning just how much pollution is generated through the process of recycling materials in an environment such as Whitehorse. How do we measure the air pollution generated by thousands of people driving their Yukon beaters down to idle for fifteen minutes at Raven once a week, of the heavy machinery used to manage and compact the garbage at Raven, of the trucks that carry the garbage thousands of kilometres to be recycled?
What other negative environmental impacts of recycling in a northern community might exist?
And then how do we compare that to the potential impacts on the local environment if a recycling program weren’t in place?
In other words, how do we measure the total value of a northern recycling program against its environmental impact?
The recycling paradigm seems to be an established fundamental aspect of urban environmental management; but does that paradigm extend to the North?
So many questions…