Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This Headline has been Recycled: "Recycling Has to Grow"

NL has millions of pounds of renewable resources available to be recycled, reused, and eventually, resold. The province has made progress but there's much more to do.

The city of Calgary has had drop off bins throughout the city for years. You can take a few minute walk down the street with plastics, glass, or cans, and you will not only free up some space at home, but also at the landfills, for clean air, and your own lungs.

We are a resource rich province alright, a resource that is largely untapped. The St. John's web site has a section for free "white" bulk metals pickup - fridges, stoves, swing sets, etc. that's in the right direction. But we need to evolve more in the household recycling area, to increase pop bottles and cans recycling, and to include other types of bottles and cans.

Calgary appears to be set up to accommodate citizen recycling. Here's a pdf of Recycling Opportunities from Calgary's web site. Here's a snapshot: . Food containers have to be cleaned before they are dropped off for recycling, and it only makes sense. It's hard work to be sorting these items all day, let alone have to tolerate every foul food odor there is.

There is a huge potential for huge growth in recycling in St. John's and the province. There are a number of drop off depots getting around but it's not quite where we could be in terms of facilitating recycling and accommodating residents, even for recyclable items accepted now.

Just dropping off some newspapers, plastics, and pops cans to the Elizabeth Ave. depot reminds you of Tim Horton's success - re: the line ups are happening. The space inside the customer area quickly becomes a squatty 5 x 20 ft space, and people are backed up outside the door with bags of bottles, cans, juice packs, and whatever is acceptable. The people doing the sorting are kept quite busy, and seem to be doing a good job of sorting. But they need more space too. There really is a need for either a larger work and drop-off area, but preferably more locations, as there is only so much parking space at this location, and that becomes a potential problem.

Most people are working 9-5, and with work and family commitments, are not available to drop off containers. So there needs to be available hours to accommodate recycling. Most green depots around the province close between 4 - 5 pm.

Refunds are real for plastics and pop cans, and therefore a definite incentive. It is becoming common to see people driving to the depot towing trolleys loaded with large bags of recyclables. One person's renewable resources on Monday must easily have been worth $70-$80. We 100s of millions of plastic and aluminum containers in this province each year - permanently resource-based like other provinces.

Though a refund is real, it should not at all be the only incentive to make the effort to cut down on waste to the dump. Thinking of throwing out something useful, and which has value, is well, a waste.

Oh, can't forget paper. People do drop off paper, without refund, and we can now see the tip of that resource iceberg. In February NL Environment Minister Charlene Johnson announced $300,000 toward a recycled paper baling machine, located on Blackmarsh Rd. Good stuff, but there's plenty more paper work to do.

It's been said before, but no harm in recycling the idea. In fact, take a drive around the city while the tree limbs are bare, and the leaves have yet to hide the trash. St. John's is in fact not clean and beautiful, unless you think that the bags in the trees are pretty, this time of year. But the city could be clean and beautiful. There really needs to be more pride promoted in keeping our surroundings neat, everywhere in the province.

Imagine into the future when there are hardly any containers thrown out in the garbage. Then, imagine other items included. In South Korea, every straw, or coffee stirring stick is recycled. Now that's really into it.

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