Jamie Kaminski is the President of both HSR Recycling Services and HSR Zero Waste consulting. As the lead policy advisor for Zero Waste Canada (ZWC), and board member of the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), Jamie represents the Canadian reference point for internationally accepted Zero Waste policies.
Q: You’ve recently launched online Zero Waste courses, but can you tell us why it is important to have increased awareness of Zero Waste issues in the community?
JK: Communities play such a big part in spreading the Zero Waste message, as municipality messaging right now is heavily focused on recycling and composting better. Municipalities are still driven to promote waste incineration as an alternative to landfill, but we need to pressure them to move the focus more to reduction and transitioning to a circular economy. Circularity doesn’t just have to be about advancements in technology, but circular in terms of re-use of items for example in local cafes and restaurants where individuals are empowered by having control over what happens to their items. Education on the importance of reusables is so important here, as right now once you dispose of a single-use item you lose your control over where it ends up.
Q: Continuing the subject of single use, the pandemic has led to an increase in many items in this category. What would your message be to people who are finding it difficult to find places who accept reusables?
JK: The pandemic has changed my view on reusables. I believe that the environment has previously been too nice in requesting allowance for personal containers to be accepted on a larger scale. The issue right now is with comfortability, but the end goal should be for companies to provide reusable items by setting up their own network, which they have the capacity to do. It’s not practical for everyone to bring their own containers all the time, so this would help alleviate that. I know that the City of Victoria has recently been looking into helping companies begin this process through funding opportunities and implementing by-laws. It’s important for businesses to realize that their systems can be fixed with reusables, and they can focus on improving this system over time rather than constantly reacting to changes to recycling and composting acceptability.
Q: What would you like to see happen next to help Canadian businesses move towards a circular economy?
JK: The biggest thing is shifting the focus to reuse and backing it up by putting funding towards it. Most funding is still put towards incineration, so we need to invert this. There also needs to be more education and messaging in communities about the benefits a circular transition would bring. There should be more de-centralizing of power to local governments to enact circular strategies and reap the benefits to local communities in the form of jobs.
Q: Zero Waste Canada provides a certification program for businesses. What are some key benefits this certification can bring?
JK: Certification is great for businesses who have sustainability reporting mechanisms, but also for cost savings analysis. Recycling and composting costs are only going up, so it’s important for businesses to understand the cost of their waste and then identify ways to improve. Additionally, businesses will benefit by being recognized as an advocate for the movement. Zero waste principles have strong links to the UNSustainable Development Goals, and so promote international awareness of environmental justice.
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Waste disposal has many negative effects on the environment, including the emission of gasses which contribute to global warming and affect the quality of the air we breathe in.