April 22nd, 2018

Is our recycling being recycled?

By Letter to the Editor on January 9, 2018.

The movement to urge citizens of Lethbridge to recycle products rather than toss them in the same bin has been going on for a few years. As taxpaying citizens paying for a service, our expectations are that the recyclables are getting recycled and they are not going to the landfill alongside the rest of our garbage. Unless we actually follow our recyclables through the entire process of being made into new products, it is impossible to say whether our recyclables in Lethbridge are actually being recycled.

Recycling may seem like a modern concept but the environmental movement has been around for many years. In fact, economic depressions made recycling a necessity in the 1940s. Because of public acceptance and awareness of the overflow of landfills, pollution, depleting of natural resources, energy and cost savings, the increased importance of improved economics of recycling and laws have been introduced.

Recycling is a business. In British Columbia my understanding is they have a program called “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” which puts the onus on the manufacturers of the recycled materials. Taxpayers no longer have to pay for recycling programs whereas Albertans pay taxes towards their recycling programs. If a city commits to a recycling program, my understanding is typically it becomes illegal to throw away recyclable materials.

In Alberta, items collected through recycling programs are unsorted, so it has become a challenge to sell to foreign markets. There are very few facilities that recycle plastic. Plastic has been sold in previous years and was guaranteed a trip to China. As of Jan. 1, China no longer is accepting our plastic. So, where are our recyclables going now?

Oil-based plastics do not degrade; all types of plastics are identified by a code, and some plastics are not economically feasible to recycle. I am not an environmentalist or a expert on recycling but I would think we should be careful as consumers what we purchase, for these non-recyclable plastics will be around for generations to come, creating numerous issues.

As a taxpaying citizen of Lethbridge, starting 2018, the City of Lethbridge “Waste and Recycling Program” is being implemented. I am hoping this program is not just words and that there will be clear benefits in terms of energy used, natural resources consumed, pollutants released and landfill spaces. I am hoping it will prove viable and materials are actually being sorted and recycled. I am hoping this program does not become only about making a profit.

Bernie Heck-Veres


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6 Responses to “Is our recycling being recycled?”

  1. George McCrea says:

    A lot of hope here Bernie. Profit. Three private recyclers losing theirs, the City will just keep jacking your bill till there is.

  2. snowman says:

    The question to ask this change my mind certain councillors and mayorHow many tonnes of recyclables are accepted at landfill a year?
    our answer 12,894 tonnes 2016 up from 2015 – 2017 tonnes it seemsthe city allows dumping recyclables but requires residentials to pay
    over $20million to fix their so-called problem.Ask the new Recycling General Manager to tell the citizens the 2017 total City tonnage of wasteto landfill, tonnage of residential waste, total tonnage of residential recycling, total tonnage of recycling at present Msf contract facility,City share of profit from recyclables sales less handling fee from presentcontract MSF. The loss of sales on Cardboard, clean paper, newspaperanything going to China and Philipines. The $16m debt borrowingcharged to property tax? for curbside recycling program. Charge a utility
    to property tax, ? thought user fees and profits were to pay for project.
    your comment.

    China and Phillipines

  3. HaroldP says:

    Excellent comments Bernie, I concur with your last sentence absolutely. City Operated Curbside Recycling will be nothing more than a money grab from each and every resident of Lethbridge, whether they do want or need the service. Furthermore, it will create jobs (high paying/union jobs) for the City, while on the other hand will put the three private recycle operators who currently conduct residential curbside recycling on demand, out of business. Not only put them out of business, but not compensate them nor offer them any contract work with the City! Fair? Hardly!

    Secondly, at best, the only thing that it appears any recycle program moving forward will provide is a “feel good” posture to those who actually believe that they are doing their part to conserve our land fill and be environmentally friendly. Obviously this is not the case as reports are coming in across the nation that recyclables collected by municipalities are ending up in land fills, and with the depleted markets in China, even more recycle material will end up in land fills!

    Why should our City, blindly move forward with a Material Recycle Plant costing over 16 Million dolllars other than to expend tax payer money and hire a plethora of City employees to operate this frivolous program.

    Does anyone else see a “White Elephant” here?

  4. phlushie says:

    Just think how well they made out with utility overcharges. Our CIty has learned how to develop revenue streams and accepting accolades for being “green” in doing so.

  5. snowman says:

    the article reads filpinos call on pm to take out trash. the port of Manilla
    Philpines has 103 stranded containers crammed with thousands of tons
    of rotting trash alledged to be recyclable plastics from Canada festering
    for about 4 years.
    The last visit to Philipines by sunny ways Trudeau stated a ” Canadian solution”
    was in the works 2years later the containers still remain a example of getting rid
    of so called recyclables.(garbage)
    Our City recyclable people allow 12,894 tonnes of recyclables received at our landfill
    2016, up 2107 tonnes from 2015 pg 97 City 2016 annual report. Do not say from who,
    what type ,could it be the local processor with no market cheaper to dump at $75 a tonne.
    charged to residentials.

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