Garbage Truck

Western Newfoundland's Waste Management System

AHOI's Research & Report
Where does our recycling go?

Since 2019 AHOI has been conducting coastal clean-up audits and research on plastic pollution, as well as working with businesses and communities to decrease dependency and unnecessary use of single-use plastics. Throughout the process, we found ourselves asking the same questions: ‘what happens to our plastic waste?’ and ‘how effectively is it getting recycled?’ and soon realized there are a lot of unknowns. Without answers, it is difficult to make recommendations regarding the use of plastics because we don’t know how they impact our environment and other areas of the world, especially once they leave the island.


Finding answers to these questions is no small task. AHOI secured funding through the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Initiative to help move the Gros Morne region towards a more circular economy. A portion of this project involved reviewing government reports, conducting jurisdictional scans of comparable waste systems, and connecting with residents, businesses, various waste management authorities, the 7 local municipalities and Gros Morne National Park. The robust body of research created a holistic map of the waste management system in the Gros Morne region and helped identify target areas of plastic pollution that could be fixed.

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Waste Cover Page.png

Click photo to see the full report.

Gaps and Opportunities

AHOI’s regional strategy for tackling plastic waste aims to build upon the joint waste diversion efforts between multiple entities and generate consistency throughout the region where municipalities, local businesses, and the national park can operate and move towards a circular economy. 

 

Julia Fracassi, a talented AHOI intern from the Master of Arts in Environmental Policy program at Grenfell Campus - Memorial University, performed an in-depth analysis of the research collected using a Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM) model to analyze the functions of the system and highlight gaps and areas where opportunities for improvement exist. 

 

The research and analysis helped to identify more then 2 dozen actionable steps for increasing waste diversion as a region, and as a province. The recommendations bring key players together, including Gros Morne National Park, municipalities, local businesses, waste collection services, and regional waste management authorities.

AHOI Infographic - Recycling System Western Newfoundland - March 16, 2022 (FA).png

Global Recycling Rate

  • Only 9% of plastics get recycled

  • Canada is the world’s second highest user of plastics

       on a per person basis. 

Gaps in our Local System Include:  

  • Lack of transparency for end-market use of recyclables

  • Poor compliance by residents and businesses

  • Lack of enforcement against non-compliance & illegal dumping

  • Lack of accountability of waste haulers

  • Disjointed decision-making

  • Poor public outreach.​

Solutions to Address these Gaps:

Are steps that businesses, towns, parks, and key players in the waste management system can take. They can be scaled to the provincial level. They include but are not limited to:

  • Install washing stations at waste facilities and where possible, place recycling bins near water sources where plastics can be rinsed to prevent contamination and improve their recyclability. 

  • Install informative signage on trails and high-traffic areas to reduce littering and unnecessary plastic use.

  • Improve education and outreach materials for communities and visitors to the province. 

  • Increase Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs to ensure the producers of plastic packaging are responsible for the waste they create. 

  • Replace single-use plastics with compostable and reusable alternatives in the food service industry and at public events. 

Plastic and other mis-managed waste impacts wildlife, poses health risks to communities, and overburdens municipalities with waste fees.

If big changes are not made to create a strong waste management system, we will never be able to move towards a sustainable, circular economy and we will continue seeing the impacts our waste has on our communities, environment and ocean that sustains them, for generations to come.

Assessment at a Glance