EcoLog Environmental Resources Group

Dealing with white goods

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Courtesy of Courtesy of EcoLog Environmental Resources Group

The Hemlock Knoll Sanitary Landfill, operated by the South West Solid Waste Commission (SWSWC), is the waste management facility for the South Western portion of New Brunswick. This facility, which opened in the fall of 1997, serves approximately 14,000 households.

In the past, when the area was serviced by twenty-two old style dumps, the disposal method for most household trash was fairly straight forward. Any material requiring disposal was taken to the dump and thrown over the bank. Many of these sites regularly burned everything to save space and control vectors. During the transition from the old style dump to the regional landfill disposal method, the provincial environment department -- the governing authority in waste management -- determined that weekly door-to-door collection would be part of the new waste program. The local municipality or the province, on behalf of the residents who resided in the rural Local Service Districts (LSDs), contracted for the weekly pick-up and hauling of waste to the new regional facility.

After this new collection regime was implemented it became obvious to some jurisdictions that special arrangements would have to be made for certain items, chief among them white goods. The term 'white goods' is used to describe major household electrical appliances; specifically electric and gas ranges, washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers. There are as many arrangements for disposal of these items as there are municipalities and LSDs. A typical program sees residents able to dispose of their white goods during special spring or fall clean up collections. However, many residents don't want to hang on to a broken or unwanted appliance for six months, so their only real alternative was to transport the unit to the landfill personally.

In 2004 the New Brunswick Department of Environment, The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, Eastern Charlotte Waterways, a local environmental NGO and the SWSWC joined forces to address the illegal dumping issue. With Eastern Charlotte Waterway coordinating, work began on ways to improve the issue within South Western New Brunswick.

These sites consist of anything from abandoned vehicles, furniture, or C&D material to large household appliances and garbage. As some of the appliances contain ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as CFCs, they must be disposed of properly to avoid environmental damage and to protect human health. In the SWSWC's service district there were many different methods of disposal of these appliances. In some cases it was owner responsibility; for others the waste haulers were responsible.

The SWSWC felt the residents needed a better service. In most photos of illegal dump sites you' see white goods significantly represented. At a SWSWC meeting in the winter of 2004-2005 the idea of commission staff picking up white goods was put forward as a possible initiative. In the spring that followed, the commission began the White Goods Recycling Pilot Program.

Mechanics of the program

The pilot program allows residents to call the SWSWC and have their white goods picked up from the end of their driveway, based on a set schedule of pickups in each area. The program sets a regular schedule similar to its recycling trucks. A specific phone number was published for the public to call; further communication support has been provided by cable TV, the SWSWC website, posters, labels, pull-up banners, radio, weekly newspapers ads as well on recycling truck signage.

In both 2006 and 2007 the commission developed its own calendars. Two months in the calendars are devoted to white goods pick up. Inside the 2007 calendar, a paper magnet explains the three steps of the program.

The program utilizes special white goods trucks -- a cab-over GMC with a closed box and lift gate. Inside the box, load control devices (decking bars) help prevent appliances from falling over or shifting around during transit.

Any appliances that contain CFCs are set aside so that a certified refrigeration technician can properly contain the gases. Before the program, waste haulers picked up large appliances and put them in their trucks, with the result that often the appliances were crushed together and their CFCs were released. As well, the appliances were often so mangled when they arrived at the landfill they weren't recognizable as a metal appliance, and therefore were disposed in the landfill instead of being sent to metal recycling.

With the pilot program, waste haulers placed bright refrigerator-shaped stickers on any appliances set at the road side for disposal. These stickers inform the resident that to have the appliance disposed for free they must call the SWSWC and arrange a pick up date. This worked exceptionally well for those who didn't know about the program. As soon as the resident saw the appliance left behind they noticed the sticker and called to arrange a pickup date.

The SWSWC program has been running for three years (for about to six to seven months in each of those years). The response has been tremendous. Residents have diverted 4,058 appliances to metal recycling (1,325 in 2005, 1,483 in 2006, and 1,250 in 2007).

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