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Alternatives Journal, Environment, Ontario Politics

Algonquin Park: A Waste Diversion Success Story

Algonquin Park at sunrise. Photo by Karin Lewis.

Algonquin Park at sunrise. Flickr image by Karin Lewis.

The crown jewel of Ontario’s provincial park system is being recognized for hitting a crucial milestone not often associated with our parks system: removing garbage.

With approximately one million visitors flocking to Ontario’s largest and most popular park destination, Algonquin Park in Central Ontario is earning praise from the province’s Environmental Commissioner for improving their waste diversion rate from 20 per cent in 2004 to 40 per cent overall by 2011/2012.

And 40 per cent is simply the average: six sites in the park diverted more than 50 per cent of their waste, with one – the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre – hitting 70 per cent diversion.

“It’s encouraging to see how a few dedicated public servants can change the way Ontario’s campers experience our parks, while keeping more waste out of landfills and educating visitors and staff about responsible waste management,” said Commissioner Gord Miller on his blog.

The ECO recognizes a government program or project each year that “best meets the goals of the Environmental Bill of Rights” and is judged by an arms-length panel that selects the winner.

Miller stated that it’s his belief that this project, and others like it, will demonstrate that improving waste diversion percentages can be done “in any context.”

“If applied across Ontario’s protected area system, improved waste management could help educate park users and lessen the impact of the more than 10 million visits that these special places receive each year,” he said.

A spokesperson for Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle agreed there is an opportunity to spread the importance of proper waste diversion.

“Due to the number of people that visit Algonquin Provincial Park in a year, our waste management strategy has the opportunity to educate and engage a significant number of people on the value of environmentally responsible waste management,” said MNR’s Jolanta Kowalski.

The park was able to achieve such a high diversion rate through the use of Molok containers, vertically oriented waste units that are planted, in a way, roughly two-thirds underground.

Read the full article at Alternatives Journal.

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