Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Opportunity to Recycle Plastic

Since this past fall, Prince Albert residents have had the opportunity to recycle household plastic. Crown Shred & Recycling has a pilot project for residential recycling, similar to programs that they currently have in Regina and Moose Jaw. As vice-chair of the North Central Waste Management Authority, I figured that I should be setting a good example, so we signed up right away.

There is a nominal cost - $10 per month, which translates to $120 per year, paid in advance. I was quite impressed - the day after signing up on-line, two blue boxes, about 24 by 18 by 18 inches, were delivered to our door. Since we waited for seven years (paying every year via our water bill) for our back alley recycling bin, it was nice to have the service provided as soon as it was paid for. Now, every second Wednesday morning, we carry the bin out to the edge of the yard, and by the end of the day, it has been emptied.

What sorts of things go into the box? Well, at this moment, our bin holds a shower gel bottle, a dish detergent bottle, a courier bag, a milk jug, a parmesan cheese container, several yogurt containers, a cottage cheese container, take-out coffee lids, and a couple of cake and sandwich trays. They weren't all ours - Andrea has taken to bringing plastic home from work or church, to help the cause. The program accepts kitchen, bathroom and laundry room plastics, but not oil or antifreeze containers. If you check the number inside the little recycling symbol, they take anything with a number from 1 to 7.

While ours isn't a huge amount, it has reduced the amount of garbage that goes into the back alley dumpster. And while I realize that the milk jug could go in the communal blue bin in the back, I'm familiar enough with the difficulties that these bins have posed for recycling to know that the contents may end up in the landfill, rather than being recycled.

And that's my main reason for subscribing to this service. I know that using this will help, in a small way, to reduce the amount of material going to the landfill, and thus prolong our ability to use that site. In the long run, if enough people took advantage of this opportunity, we could extend the life of the landfill and reduce the costs that will come when we have to develop a new site.

I know of one conscientious family who live outside the city, where the service is not available. However, they have partnered with someone in the city who lives alone, and share the costs - an ingenious solution that works for them, and illustrates for their children the importance of taking small actions that collectively, will make a difference.

I'm surprised that the city hasn't done more to publicize this opportunity, since it's the city that stands to gain the most benefit. Relatively few homes have signed up for the program - I'm hoping that by the end of this year, enough residents will have decided to take this small step so that the pilot project can become permanent. If you haven't, I encourage you to go to their web-site,, and see how you can become part of the solution.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." - Mahatma Gandhi

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