Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Calgary on track towards becoming more 'green' than garbage

The last blue cart was delivered to a residential home in Coventry Hills mid-June of 2009. It was one of about 280,000 that were delivered last spring when the program began.

After only six months of service, the reports are in and according to Philippa Wagner, Waste Diversion Specialist for The City, Calgary is “on track to double the amount of recycling collected annually.”

In 2008, community recycling depots collected about 40,000 tonnes of recyclable materials. In 2009, The City collected 56,000 tonnes – that’s an increase of 40 per cent.

Blue cart recycling is part of The City’s 80/20 by 2020 waste diversion strategy.

“Our goal is to divert 80 per cent of our waste away from landfills by the year 2020,” said Wagner. This goal requires Calgarians to reverse a ratio of 80 per cent waste to 20 per cent recycled materials.

“The blue cart program will have a significant impact on the amount of waste coming from residences, which only accounts for one-third of the total waste going to landfills,” she said.

The other two-thirds come from businesses, institutions, industry and construction and demolition activities.

Despite the program’s quick success, there is still room for improvement. The City developed the Recycle Smart campaign to increase awareness about what can be recycled as well as the problems associated with trying to recycle some items that don’t belong in the blue carts and community depots.

According to a public service announcement airing on Global TV, “recycling smart means only including items the sorting plant can handle.”

“One of the biggest categories of materials that are not accepted is metal – scrap metal, coat hangers, and helium and propane tanks. Food and beverage containers and aluminum foil, on the other hand, are okay,” Wagner explained.

The City places restrictions on what can and cannot go into blue carts and community depots to protect sorting facility staff and equipment. A pre-sort line is monitored by employees who remove unacceptable materials.

Calgarians are asked to keep in mind that everything they put into their blue carts ends up in direct contact with a facility employee, including heavy, sharp or contaminated materials that need to be removed from the sort line by hand.

Information about what can and cannot be put into blue carts and recycling depots is available at calgary.ca/recycling.

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