June 18, 2007

Nova Scotia proclaims sustainability legislation setting environment-economy targets

Nova Scotia marked Canadian Environment Week 2007 by proclaiming the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act on June 7. Introduced on March 22 by Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent, the act was given Royal Assent on April 13 (EcoWeek April 23).

Its provisions make Nova Scotia a leader among Canadian jurisdictions, combining environmental targets and economic commitments designed to make the province one of the world's cleanest, most sustainable environments by 2020. Among the more than 20 targets are:

*reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 1990 levels (this is 35% lower than projected 2020 levels);

*adoption of emission standards for new motor vehicles by 2010;

*implementation of a policy to prevent net loss of wetlands by 2009;

*development and adoption of a sustainable procurement policy for government by 2009;

*ensuring that 18.5% of electricity is derived from renewable sources by 2013; and

*legally protection for 12% of the province's land mass by 2015.

The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act also commits to raising Nova Scotia's economic performance to the Canadian average or better by 2020. "We will be achieving these goals through Nova Scotia's economic growth strategy, titled Opportunities for Sustainable Prosperity," said Premier Rodney MacDonald.

Nova Scotia will be one of the few province with specific requirements for reporting environmental progress. The progress will be reported annually to the public.

In other environmental developments, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has begun a new curbside organic waste program, bringing to nearly 90% the percentage of Nova Scotia residents with access to curbside collection of organic waste. In addition, 100% access to curbside collection of recyclable materials such as paper, bottles and cans has contributed to keeping the province's waste diversion rate the highest in Canada. Nova Scotians dispose of 45% less waste than the Canadian average.

Figures for 2005-06 show that curbside collection programs diverted some 46,000 tonnes of recyclable material and 58,000 tonnes of organic matter from landfills. Other waste diversion programs keep large amounts of material out of provincial landfills each year including about 16,000 tonnes of beverage containers, 10,000 tonnes of tires, 25,000 tonnes of organic materials from restaurants, supermarkets and food related businesses, 65,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard from the business sector, and more than 80,000 tonnes of wood, metal, asphalt shingles and gyproc from construction and demolition activity.

Through product-specific programs as well, Nova Scotians can return leftover paint to their local Enviro-Depot, unused medications to their pharmacy, used rechargeable batteries to major retailers and used oil to local sellers. Some retailers accept used cell phones and ink cartridges and donate part of the proceeds from reusing the returned item to local food banks.

The Department of Environment and Labour is also co-ordinating pilot projects to test the collection of scrap metal in blue bags and the potential composting of gyproc.

The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act commits to reducing the Nova Scotian average of materials sent to the landfill to 300 kg per person per year, down from 427 kg per capita annually. This target is set for 2015.

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