Recycling program growing with new bins
Okotoks: Number of homes registered jumped 50 per cent since May
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 06:00 am
Hailed as larger and more convenient, the new bins used for Okotoks’ curbside recycling program are a smash hit.
In the four months since the bins were introduced Okotoks’ curbside recycling program has grown by almost 50 per cent. There are about 3,500 homes signed up for the program, up from 2,358 when the new, larger bins were first announced in May.
Okotoks resident Andrea Chew said she likes the increased size of the bins and the convenience of being able to put all recyclables into one cart.
“For us it’s great, we don’t have to sort it,” she said.
With more room, Chew said her family has increased the amount it recycles each week.
“We always recycled a lot but we do more now,” she said.
Earlier this year Okotoks signed a five-year contract with Rocky Mountain Waste Services to take over curbside recycling collection in Okotoks.
The new contract allowed the Town to replace the blue and red bins it previously used in the curbside recycling program.
In addition, with a capacity of 240 litres, the new recycling bins are twice as large as the smaller of the two garbage bins available to residents. The monthly fee for the recycling service remains at $8.45.
The new carts were handed out in the beginning of July to households registered with the Town’s recycling program.
Previously recyclables were taken to the Okotoks Recycling Centre, but now Rocky Mountain Waste Services takes the materials to a different facility outside of town to be sorted and processed.
It’s anticipated this will result in lower volumes at the recycling centre, something the Town hopes will open the door to accepting different materials at the facility.
Tracey Chala, Okotoks’ resource recovery co-ordinator, said they don’t yet know how much additional recyclables have been collected or if there is any less garbage ending up in the landfill. However, she said the amount of material would definitely be up because of the number of new households signed up for the service.
“Of course there is an impact, we don’t know what it’s going to be yet,” she said.
The Town is already looking at what changes it can make at the recycling centre to start accepting new materials.
Chala said the Town is looking at what other municipalities are doing and accepting at their recycling centres.
“With the arrival of the blue carts and the collected material going to a private facility we have the opportunity to expand the objectives for the Okotoks Recycling Centre,” she said.
The first change could be the addition of electronic waste.
Chala said they are working on accepting e-waste at the centre, which would then be forwarded to an outside processor. She said a proposal to do so will go to town council in the fall.
“This would probably one of the quicker ones to get up and running, so that’s why we picked that one first,” she said. “Hopefully, that’ll be in the next couple of months.”
Chala said the Town is also looking at partnering with an apartment building or condo complex for a pilot project testing the viability of collecting recyclables at multi-family developments.
As well, the Town would also like to work with businesses to get them to bring their recyclables to the recycling centre. Chala said it’s a free service businesses could use to deal with their own recyclables.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson said the new carts are a significant improvement for the service.
“It is so convenient and so cost effective compared to what is was before,” he said.
In addition, Robertson said he wants to give people another option to throwing their Styrofoam in the garbage. He suggested having a bin at the recycling centre where people can drop off Styrofoam.
Robertson said the Town would still end up in the landfill for now and the move would be to give people a place to throw out Styrofoam to give them more room in their garbage cans.
“If people get a new television and end up with the Styrofoam, there’s somewhere to take it rather than having to take two or three weeks in their garbage,” he said.
Robertson said the Town is looking for ways to be able to recycle Styrofoam, but it doesn’t have any plans to do so right now. He said there’s no market for the material and it takes a lot of space to store Styrofoam.
Coun. Ed Sands said he would like the Town to look at recycling Styrofoam anyway.
“I’d be happy to see it go so some kind of recycling,” he said.
Sands said the Town could partner with other members of the Foothills Regional Landfill Commission to investigate ways to recycle Styrofoam.
He added Okotoks could also look at increasing battery recycling at the recycling centre.
Ultimately, Sands said he is pleased with how well the new bins have worked out.
“The recycling bin is twice as big as the garbage bin because it’s twice as important to recycle than to discard waste,” he said.