As the province plans for recovery, the town is beginning to carefully and responsibly bring back services and reopen some public spaces, programs and services. Provincial emergency orders and the town’s physical distancing by-law remain in effect. We must all continue to follow guidelines from Public Health officials.
We implement programs to help residents actively reduce their ecological footprint, including energy use, water consumption and waste, alongside residential preparedness and resilience.
The amount of waste diverted from landfills provides a measure of how effective our efforts have been to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Diverting waste through recycling and composting programs extends the life of our landfills, reduces energy use, and reduces the need for extracting, refining and processing new raw materials. Supporting households and businesses to try and minimize waste also encourages environmental stewardship and responsibility.
The overall amount of waste generated per person has decreased over the past decade with more waste being diverted through blue bin recycling, organics, yard waste, and white goods and metal recycling programs. Diversion increased substantially with the introduction of a green bin organics program in 2008. Rates have been relatively consistent over the last five years hovering around 58 per cent.
Efficient use of water is good for the environment. It reduces our impact on water resources and reduces the energy required to treat and transport water to our homes. It is also good for cost avoidance, because it is cheaper to conserve water than it is to increase treatment capacity. Studies show that water efficiency measures can cost less than new infrastructure.
Despite increasing population, total residential water use has remained steady since 2005. Gains in population have been offset by lower household water use. Several factors may be contributing to this trend including water reduction strategies such as the Outdoor Water Use Education Program put in place by Halton Region and supported by the town and availability of water saving fixtures and appliances.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that when burned contributes to climate change and other air pollutants. Reducing natural gas use is good for the environment and lowers gas bills saving you money. Tracking household natural gas usage can help inform energy conservation efforts, retrofit programs, building standards and household behaviour change. Residential gas use is primarily used for home heating.
Overall, per capita gas consumption has remained relatively steady, although the sharp increase in 2014 is likely a result of the seasonally below average temperatures seen that winter. Programs targeted towards reducing home energy use and more energy efficient heating systems can contribute to decreases in household heating costs.
Electricity generation can produce a number of air pollutants or toxic materials depending on how the electricity is produced. For example, fossil fuel-based electric power plants (such as natural gas fired plants) emit greenhouse gases (GHGe) such as carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change and nuclear plants produce radioactive waste. Reducing electricity use is good for the environment and lowers household electrical bills, saving you money. Tracking household electricity usage can inform energy conservation and efficiency programs and help us better target problem areas.
Although there was a noticeable drop in per capita electricity consumption between the years 2012 and 2013, consumption levels have been relatively stable the past three years. Electricity consumption per person in 2016 was 2 per cent below the five-year average and virtually unchanged when compared to 2015 levels. Reductions in per capita electricity use may be due in part to extensive campaigns aimed at conservation and energy efficiency improvements in appliances.