Roles of Consumers in Waste Management
Although new regulation puts responsibility back on the producers, consumers still play a vital role in reducing the amount of waste that reaches landfills (Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks, 2019).
The government has put in place regulations to ensure that there are resources available for everyone to incorporate more eco-friendly choices, and consumers must commit to using these available services.
Consumers have two key points at which they can impact waste management; those being when purchasing goods and when disposing of them (Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks, 2019).
Ideally when purchasing products, consumers would make a conscious effort, if possible, to consider the ecological impact of the item; this can include buying products with reduced packaging, longer lifespan, or increased usability.
Read Also : Environmental and Social Impacts of Waste and Waste Management Strategies
The second point in waste reduction at the consumer level is waste disposal. Impacts can be minimized if consumers select the appropriate disposal channel (i.e. organics into compost, hazardous waste to a collection point).
Alternatively, consumers can look for opportunities to donate, repair, or reuse items before disposing of them.
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requires farmers to be responsible for end-of-life management. In the agricultural sector, this includes waste packaging from pesticides and other non-organic waste.
One EPR program is the empty pesticide container recycling program administered by CleanFARMS. As of 2009, the program had collected and recycled over 83 million empty commercial-class pesticide containers from Canadian farmers.
Commercial users of pesticides return their empty containers to any one of the 1,000 designated sites across Canada. The program ensures that collection sites, contractors and processors meet strict health, safety and environmental standards.
Instead of filling our landfills, the CleanFARMS™ program has prevented more than 68,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere -this is equal to taking more than 13,000 cars off the road or saving the emissions generated from powering 6,000 homes for a year (CleanFARMS Inc., 2011).
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