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A year of garbage: Winnipeg household waste levels remain higher than usual during pandemic

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg household waste levels remain higher than usual during COVID-19' Winnipeg household waste levels remain higher than usual during COVID-19
The pandemic has created many unintended side effects, including an increase in the amount of household waste winding up at Winnipeg's landfill. Global's Marney Blunt reports – Mar 15, 2021

The pandemic has created many unintended side effects, including an increase in the amount of household waste winding up in the landfill.

“A lot of that has to do with, when the pandemic hit, there was a lot more people working from home, a lot more people spending time at home,” City of Winnipeg manager of solid waste services Michael Gordichuk said.

While household waste levels spiked drastically at the start of the pandemic, they have mostly remained higher than usual for the year.

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“Those spring cleanups carried into July, August, and September. Not much has changed, still a lot of people working from home, so I think you’re going to see the same results going forward,” Gordichuk said.

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“We’re up 12 per cent year over year.”

Read more: Coronavirus: London sees minor increase in household waste compared to other municipalities in Ontario

In 2019, the City of Winnipeg saw more than 319,000 tonnes of household waste. In 2020, that number jumped to nearly 345,000 tonnes.

More waste potentially ending up in the landfill could also pose a risk to the environment.

“Cooking more at home means more food waste, which means more household food waste ending up in the landfill producing methane,” Compost Winnipeg general manager Robin Bryan told Global News.

Bryan is urging residents to be mindful of what they throw away.

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“Really notice how much of what you throw out is food waste or organic waste,” he said. “And that includes bones, compostable packaging, tissue paper — these are all things that could be diverted from the landfill and actually decompose aerobically and produce a valuable product from it.”

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Bryan adds that there has been also been a heightened interest in composting programs since the pandemic started.

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“We’ve grown from just over 400 to nearly 700 residential pickups over the past year and are getting more every day,” Bryan added. “(I) really encourage people to hop on that movement and take that easy first step to lowering their emissions by keeping that food out of the landfill.”

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