Recycling continuing to evolve in Okotoks

Okotoks: curbside recycling taking off; new items accepted at recycling centre

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 03:23 pm

Okotoks resident Kristie Nutter sorts through her recycleables at the Okotoks Recycling Centre on July. The recycling centre is continuing to take on new items, and is working on accepting styrofoam in the future.
Okotoks resident Kristie Nutter sorts through her recycleables at the Okotoks Recycling Centre on July. The recycling centre is continuing to take on new items, and is working on accepting styrofoam in the future.
Roxanne Blackwell/OWW

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Okotoks is continuing to own its environmentally friendly reputation with 50 per cent of eligible households currently subscribed to the Curb It Curbside Recycling Program.

The program was introduced just over a year ago as an improvement from the old curbside recycling system. The new 240 L bins allow users to toss plastics, metals and paper into their bins without sorting it first, and it is then taken to a separate facility outside of town for processing.

The program diverts 88 tons of material from the landfill each month, and Okotoks Sustainability Coordinator Dawn Smith said people have been very receptive to the new carts, which cost $8.45 per month.

“It’s going very well, It’s very popular and people definitely like it,” she said. “I think the fact that there's no more sorting is what sold it for a lot of people, and also there's more capacity. The smaller bins had a finite size because you had to carry them, with the rolling 240 L bin it's so easy.”

With more people subscribing to curbside recycling, Smith said they’re looking to evolve the recycling centre into an eco centre that will accept specialty items that aren’t allowed in the blue bins.

“It’s still rally successful,” Smith said of the recycling centre. “I think down the road if recycling were to change and become more curbside focused there's no reason that building still wouldn’t continue to offer those niche services.”

Since processing for the Curb It bins is done at a different facility, the recycling centre has had extra capacity to take on new items. The facility now accepts batteries, paint, and even used Tassimo and Nespresso coffee pods.

“(Recycling the coffee pods) doesn't cost us any money,” Smith said. “We ship them off to a specialty company called TerraCycle and they're a company that specialize in odd items, and the coffee companies sponsor that obviously to maintain their green image that they clean up their material.”

Although the pods can be recycled, Smith said they would like if people didn’t purchase them at all.

“They are really convenient, but they still have an environmental impact that obviously a regular coffee machine doesn't,” she said. “Even if you're recycling you're still buying a lot more material.”

Unfortunately the Keurig is not part of the program, but the K-cups can still be taken apart, emptied out, and recycled along with regular plastics and metals, which is what Okotoks resident Kristie Nutter does. She says that she’s happy with the range of materials accepted at the recycling centre and makes a trip there about once a week.

“It's excellent compared to Calgary,” she said. “We pretty much only have one bag of garbage a week and that's diapers, but I mean you can take anything apart and recycle it. Styrofoam is the only thing (I wish they took), but we don’t get a lot of it. It’s only if you buy something brand new.”

Smith said they’ve been working on getting a Styrofoam compactor and it was in the budget for this year, but the facility that manufactures the machines was wiped out from the Tsunami in Japan.

“The styrofoam thing we are hoping to come up with a solution in the next year, but it's not looking promising right now,” she said.

Smith said they will be presenting a new resource recovery plan to Town council next month which will outline the evolution plans for the recycling centre until 2020.

“Those odd items always evolve depending on the market, who would of thought of the coffee pods a few years ago, they didn’t even exist,” she said. “So these things come out of the market and we are trying to react and divert those items from the landfill.”


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