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Algonquin Park Waste Management System Recognized by ECO

Wednesday, January 23rd 2013 10:50:30am

Media Release

Every year, the ECO recognizes a government program or project that best meets the goals of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993. Ministries are invited to submit nominations, and an arms-length panel reviews them and selects the winner. Today, the 2012 ECO Recognition Award is being presented to staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources for their waste management system for park visitors in Algonquin Provincial Park.

Waste management presents a major challenge in Algonquin Provincial Park. With a turnover of thousands of people every year, there are many visitors to educate and large quantities of waste to manage.

Innovative staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources rose to this challenge by designing and implementing a system which has increased the waste diversion rate in the park from about 20% in 2004 to over 40% in 2011. This amounted to over 200 metric tonnes of waste diverted from landfill last year. The staff’s next goal is to reach a 60% diversion rate.

“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 the Commissioner.

The system facilitates recycling and organic diversion through the placement of separated waste collection containers along the Highway 60 corridor of the Park (between Madawaska and Huntsville). These containers are specially designed with wildlife-resistant lids and are placed 2/3 underground so the coolness of the ground tempers odours.

The ECO believes this project is important as it will lessen the environmental impact of the more than one million visits that Algonquin receives annually, and demonstrates that waste diversion can be done in any context. Further, 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.

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For more information, contact:
Hayley Easto, Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
416-325-3371 / 416-819-1673 / 1-800-701-6454

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is appointed by the Legislative Assembly to be the province's independent environmental watchdog, reporting publicly on the government's environmental decision making.