John Watson, environmental manager of the Municipality of Dysart et al, places a donation bag of textiles into one of the textile recycling bins at the Haliburton landfill. /VIVIAN COLLINGS Staff

Dysart releases 2023 waste management study

By Vivian Collings

Dysart residents care about what they consume and where it’s going.

It’s evident the municipality’s innovative waste management programs are doing the trick.

With only two of Dysart’s five landfills “active”, it’s more important than ever to divert waste wherever we can, says the municipality’s environmental manager John Watson.

Even though the programs have proved successful, there’s always room for improvement.

With the Haliburton, Kennisis Lake, and West Guilford at their limit for garbage, all non-recyclable waste is taken to an Environmental Centre in Waterford.

To help understand what’s being thrown away and when, three-season waste composition studies began in 2022.

They analyze what types of materials are going into the garbage shipping containers and how much of each type of item.

From Dysart’s 2023 three-season waste composition studies:

– 3.75 per cent of the garbage were papers (boxboard, printed paper, cardboard, paper beverage cups) that should be going into Recycling for Papers

– 4.1 per cent of the garbage was containers (aluminum foil and trays, glass food jars, soap bottles) that should be going into Recycling for Containers

– In the Recycling for Papers, some of the top contaminates included tissues/paper towel, and food. Those items should go in the garbage

– In the Recycling for Containers, some of the top contaminates include
plastic film, tissues/paper towel, and food. Those items should go in the garbage

“The really interesting thing from the waste audit in 2023 has to do with the amount of organics or food waste in the garbage. That really makes a case for the importance of composting to divert that waste away from the landfill,” Watson said.

He said 34.5 per cent of Dysart’s garbage was food waste and organics.

“If you could take that much material out of the garbage, that’s going to really reduce the amount of garbage that needs to be disposed of in the landfill, so things like a composer, FoodCycler, or another organics option would be really helpful to reduce the waste that we have,” he said.

FoodCycler pilot projects have been held in Dysart, Minden, Algonquin Highlands, and the county as a whole.

“That’s 800 units in the county that people are using, and there was money put aside in the county budget this year to do another pilot of 500 homes, so there’s the opportunity for that to continue,” he said.

Watson said Dysart will be restocking composters and digesters in the spring.

Blue Box program

The Blue Box program is a province wide mandate that started in July 2023 and will continue to 2025. 

The program is meant to hold producers accountable and responsible for the end of life of their materials.

Blue Box materials include those composed of plastic, glass, metal, paper, or a combination.

“Dysart transitioned to the new Blue Box regulation on January 1 of this year. In that agreement that we have with Circular Materials, which is the management that oversees the implementation of that regulation, they collect the Blue Box materials from our five sites and then process that recycling,” Watson said.

Textile and electronic recycling programs

The municipality brought in a new way to handle textile waste in 2022.

Textiles can be dropped off at the purple bins at any of Dysart’s five landfill sites washed and placed in clear plastic bags to be recycled.

“It’s been so successful. It’s amazing to think we collected 20 metric tonnes of textiles in 2023, and to see it all being reused or recycled is fantastic,” Watson said.

The program’s operated by Cornerstone to Recovery, a not-for-profit that supports people experiencing addiction and mental illness. 

“I think we’ll see as we come into 2024 collecting even more textiles in those bins as people learn about the program. It’s a great way of keeping that stuff out of the landfill.”

Acceptable items are clothing, hats, scarves, ties, jackets, coats, belts, shoes, jewelry, purses, backpacks, bedding, blankets, curtains, fabric, pillows, sleeping bags, and towels.

Additionally, all five of Dysart’s landfills have an area for electronic waste.

Thirty-seven metric tonnes of electronics were collected in Dysart in 2023.

Hazardous Waste Days

At Dysart’s regular council meeting on Feb. 27, the county’s Hazardous Waste drop-off days were announced. Residents can bring in items like car batteries, gasoline, paint, pesticides, and used motor oil to be properly disposed of.

Dysart’s scheduled Household Hazardous Waste Days in 2024 are:

Saturday, July 27 at Haliburton Landfill (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Saturday, August 10, at Harcourt Landfill (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Saturday, September 14 at West Guilford Landfill (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 

Dysart residents are also able to attend Highlands East, Minden Hills, and Algonquin Highlands Hazardous Waste Days:

Saturday, May 4 – Highlands East

Saturday, May 18 – Minden Hills

Saturday, June 8, 2024 – Algonquin Highlands

Saturday, July 6 – Minden Hills

Saturday, July 6 – Highlands East

Saturday, August 24 – Minden Hills

Saturday, August 24 – Algonquin Highlands

Saturday, September 14 – Algonquin Highlands

Saturday, September 28 – Highlands East

Saturday, October 19 – Algonquin Highlands

Recycling lighting materials

A new regulation requires municipalities to manage the recycling of lighting materials.

“In the past, we used to do recycling of compact fluorescent light bulbs and tubes on Hazardous Waste Days, but with this new regulation, it’s going to include all types of lighting,” Watson said.

“We will have that option at three of our landfills – Haliburton, Harcourt, and West Guilford.”

Residents will be able to drop off all their bulbs and tubes at no cost, and all material will be collected and recycled.

For the full waste management summary, visit the minutes from Tuesday’s council meeting

“Sometimes we can get a little complacent when sorting our recycling, so definitely think before you throw. Make sure it’s something that can go into our recycling bins, and if you’re not sure, visit our website or Waste Wizard app.”

Dysart’s Waste Wizard can be found here: