29 May 2015

More delays in taking out the trash #nlpoli

On Monday,  municipal affairs minister Keith Hutchings announced that the provincial government was setting back the clock on the provincial waste management strategy.

Well, they sort of announced it. 

You see, the news release posted by the government uncommunication elves buried the news under a lot of self-congratulation.

And what they didn’t bury they just left out altogether.

The headline reads:
Provincial Government Extends Timeline for Implementation of Solid Waste Management Strategy
The first sentence says that the provincial government “will continue to invest in the Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy with a plan to complete a province-wide network of transfer stations and waste recovery facilities by 2020 and develop full-scale organic waste management infrastructure by 2025.”

The second paragraph talks about how much money they’ve spent and how many dump sites that the government has closed.  You have to read an attached “backgrounder” to discover that count includes dumps closed since 2002. 

Keep that date in mind. 

There’s yada yada about investment.

There’s another yada yada quote  that starts with “While reaching our 50 per cent diversion goal requires province-wide infrastructure to expand recycling services and implement full-scale organic waste management,…”

And by the time you get to the bottom of the whole package, you see this “fact”:
  • The waste diversion rate has increased from seven per cent in 1992 to 27 per cent in 2013.

To understand what we are talking about here, you have to go back to 2007.  The year of the general election, the Conservatives announced their Solid Waste Management Strategy.  You read that and you just have to think of Fred Thompson in the Hunt for Red October:  ‘’Russians don’t take a dump, son, without a plan.”

Newfoundlanders don't have a plan for their dumps.  They have a whole strategy.

But anyway,  the 2007 Conservative strategy was actually nothing but the Liberal strategy announced five years earlier with all the dates pushed back by up to a decade.  No shit.  In some cases, the document from 2007 was word-for-word from the earlier strategy.

The final implementation date, though, went from 2010 to 2020.

One of the big goals of the revised plan was to divert 50% of solid waste from landfills.  In the revised version, government now commits to having that in place by 2020.

What was the original target?

Well, in 2002,  the plan was to “divert 50 percent of the materials currently going to disposal by 2010."

In 2007, they pushed that back to 2015.

Now the target date is pushed back another five years.

And how close are they to the goal of diverting half the solid waste from landfills?

Scroll back up and look at that little factoid they stuck in right at the end.

27% in 2013.

Two years ago – insert a dozen exclamation points here – they were only half way to the target.

And of course that was the second target.

Now the provincial environmental pixies hope to get the rest of the way to that target in five years.  That’s despite saying that in order to reach “our 50 per cent diversion goal requires province-wide infrastructure to expand recycling services and implement full-scale organic waste management.”

Implicitly, they haven’t got the infrastructure they need.

It’s not like they haven’t spent … errr… invested – enough money.  The original commitment was to spend $200 million.  They’ve already dropped $160 million on waste management with the other $40 on the way.  Ironically, the 2007 news release blamed the failure of the 2002 strategy on a lack of spending.

Apparently, money wasn’t the problem.

Get ready for the announcement in 2020 that the target dates have been pushed back another five years… at least.