HRM cracking down on illegal dumping with new campaign

The campaign's call to action is 'Be Responsible For Your Waste.' It aims to draw attention to the consequences of illegal dumping and littering. (ERCA/Twitter - image credit)
The campaign's call to action is 'Be Responsible For Your Waste.' It aims to draw attention to the consequences of illegal dumping and littering. (ERCA/Twitter - image credit)

Halifax Regional Municipality says when it comes to illegal dumping, public interest in the topic has been increasing, and recently they've decided to take action with a new awareness campaign.

"It's very hard to quantify whether illegal dumping has increased, but what we do know is that the public is concerned about it," said Kirk Symonds, part of HRM's solid waste education team.

The new campaign explores the social and environmental burdens of illegal dumping and litter, and aims to reinforce the consequences of doing so. But the primary focus is educating the public about where garbage can be safely disposed and what exactly can be put curbside.

Symonds said a lot of people don't dump their garbage illegally for malicious purposes, but because they aren't sure what to do with it.

"If you look at illegal dumping sites, it defies logic," said Symonds. "We have some historical sites that we looked at and where for four years, people have illegally dumped waste that they could have put to the curb."

Fines as high as $10K

The campaign will highlight the fines for tossing trash where it doesn't belong, which range from $500 to $10,000 for illegal dumping and $200 to $10,000 for litter violations. The municipality said it will also increase its enforcement staff.

Symonds said people have to realize that illegally dumping garbage has consequences.

"If somebody was to dump a bag of their waste in a commercial dumpster, the people who are paying for the disposal of that commercial dumpster will have to pay for that waste to be disposed of," said Symonds.

"The environmental consequences are something we have to be mindful of because where they illegally dump can have an impact on the environment if you're near a waterway or If you're around drinking water."

Campaign 'definitely a good thing'

About an hour away from Halifax in Windsor, N.S., Justin Greeno said he's noticed people are dumping more and more garbage on "any trail they can find."

Greeno, who launched his own cleanup initiative last April called The World is Not Your Trash Can, said he hopes HRM's campaign will discourage people from being careless with their garbage.

Justin Greenco
Justin Greenco

"That is definitely a good thing to be doing because it's going to put it in their heads that, 'Well, I can do this the easy way, I could spend a couple hundred dollars and just take it to the dump, or have to spend $10,000,'" said Greeno, 26.

When Greeno first started collecting litter, he travelled on foot with a bag in hand, picking up whatever trash he could find. Eventually he was gifted a bike by someone in town, then a scooter, and now he's been able to work his way up to a small trailer, which he fills with litter. He's amassed about 125 garbage bags so far.

His goal is to turn his initiative into a certified non-profit and expand to cities like Halifax.

"I really don't expect [littering] to stop because there's people out there that are not going to change," said Greeno.

"But if, you know, I can get the word out as much as I can, then maybe people in their own areas will get out and do what I'm doing."