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Lecture 9

Lecture Nine

Course Code
Andre Sorensen

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GGRA03 – Lecture 9: November 9
- big changes every decade, not gradual
- reveals fundamental issues of our cities, how we deal with problems
- environmental, economic ideas, social policy
- “invisible”, you toss it out and forget about it, but its something that doesnt disappear
What is Garbage?
- Benton-Short and Short, solid waste is defeind asmaterial that has no apparanet, onvoouis or
significant economic or beneficial value to humans that is inventioanlly thrown away or disposal
- but it actually has a cost to deal with the issue
- material from Neolithic periods, deposits from thousands of years
- gradually have gotten deeper and deeper (3000 years of layers from past)
- essentially urban garbage ex. Building torn down
- people have always discarded such materials
- but the composition of dumps and the amount of garbage changed radically after ww2
- introduction of plastic, research and technology in WWII, new materials, rockets, chemical
- 19th century, many dumps, but less chance of being toxic, probably scraps of wod
- in some countries, increased wealth, people can spend and buy products than they did 50 years
ago and the reduced cost of stuff (such as packaging)
Ex. Milk delivery, the use of glass bottles and picking finished bottles up (recycle) because of
high package costs.
- plastic was introduced, jugs/packaging became a tiny cost of production and consumers just
throw it away
Huge increases in waste production
- enormous increase of per capita, increased exponentially, flattens out after mid 1990s
- changes in the retail system, the way you buy stuff, the amount of packaging waste
Ex. Today, nails and screws are all packaged neatly
Ex. Japan, packages within packages
- most landfills will still be decomposing 300 yrs from now (still recognizable packaging wont
- USA #1 in waste generated per capita – 760kg per person per year
- Canada is #5 – 640kg per person per year
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Changing dump technology
- up until ww2, youd just dump/toss garbage into a valley or off a hill, people were just casual
about the situation
- many hills in Toronto were actually filled with garbage
- when buying a home in Toronto, check to make sure its not built on a landfill
- Toronto, 161 former dumpsites
- people would complain about dumps and pits
- new invention, a sanitary landfill, pouring dirt/soil on top of garbage so rats cant get to it and
the smell is levelled
- but the problem was, rain and snow percolates through
- pg 198 of chapter has a list of garbage
- “leachates was a problem, now liners are used or impermeable clay
- estimate 300 years to break down which is a long time, but these liners will not last 300 years
- will there be someone around to maintain these landfills?
What is in our Waste Stream?
- telephone books, in the states you have an option to choose whether you want one delivered to
you or not
Why is garbage an unusual product?
- price signals for garbage, it has a negative value, normal markets dont work to ask people to
pay the full cost to get rid of your garbage everyday
- why is it hard to charge people? People will just dump it themselves elsewhere
Ex. Japan in late 1990s, charged $200 for disposing old appliances, people started dumping them
off in mountains
- it is easy for people to place garbage outside by the curb, but the reality is municipal monopoly
charges it in property taxes, so its not free
- the price mechanism is effective in signalling what goods are needed, but no price mechanism
for garbage
The incineration solution
- 1990s, we had a garbage crisis
- everywhere in eastern North America, landfills were being full
Ex. Keele valley
- most of garbage dumps in US were located in poor areas, racial minorities, because they had
less effective voice or power to oppose their area from being used as landfills
- solution? Brought in incinerators in 1990s (such as in the Portlands), they called it clean
electricity, constant waste stream and heat value
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