Earth Day Q & A: Andrew Garrett, Communications Manager, Valley Waste-Resource Management
The Grapevine (GV): Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to be working at Valley Waste-Resource Management?
Andrew Garrett (AG): Twenty years ago, after graduating from Acadia University, I got a job in Halifax providing education to residents about the new green cart program to collect compostable organics. A year later I came to Valley Waste to help out with their new green cart program… and I never left. I’ve been with Valley Waste for 19 years, working with staff to educate residents and businesses about waste reduction, recycling, and composting. Solid Waste is pretty much the only thing I know.
GV: What is the best thing about working at Valley Waste?
AG: What I love about working at Valley Waste is the opportunity I have to make a difference in our community. There are day-to-day frustrations, but looking at where we were with waste management in the ’90s and looking at where we are now, there is a sense of accomplishment.
GV: Tell us about tours of the facility: Can anyone book a tour? What should visitors expect from a tour?
AG: Yes. We will provide tours of our facility to any group wishing to learn more about what happens to the waste. Tours can range between one and two hours, depending on how in-depth we get. We explain what happens to garbage, organics, recycling, hazardous waste, and demolition debris, as well as our administration office which is made from many reused and recycled materials.
GV: What are some things you’d like people to know about where their garbage, compost, and recycling goes?
AG: I want everyone to realize that stuff doesn’t just go away; much of what we produce will be here for centuries or longer. We also want people to know that health and safety is a big concern in our industry and that waste is handled extensively by humans. The tours demonstrate how easily people can get hurt by toxic or dangerous items in our everyday garbage.
GV: What do you think is the number one challenge faced by Valley Waste right now?
AG: This can change from year-to-year with the evolution of materials and fluctuating opportunities to recycle waste. What it really comes down to is that we have too much stuff. We are really proud of everyone’s efforts to recycle and compost all that they can, but our biggest challenge is the evolving types of waste and finding solutions for it. Waste from over-consumption and daily conveniences is a global problem that is just starting to be realized due to the amount of pollution in our oceans and on land.
GV: What is your vision of the future of waste management in the Valley?
AG:We want the Valley area to continue to be viewed as leaders in waste management. This means reducing unnecessary waste in the first place and then recycling or composting all that we can. We also need more stewardship programs that make producers of packaging responsible for the post-consumer stage of a products lifecycle. We are also excited about a new initiative to further reduce how much garbage we send to landfill. Beginning later this year, the garbage we currently landfill will be converted into fuel pellets, diesel, and kerosene by a company called Sustane Technologies, located next to the landfill in Chester. This is projected to reduce our landfill garbage by 90%.
GV: Is there anything additional you’d like our readers to know about your organization?*
AG: We have educators that provide site tours or can come to your organization or business to discuss recycling and composting and waste reduction. Give us call!