8 million pounds

Steve Bartlett
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Chafik Rahrouni works on the container sort line at the Robin Hood Bay recycling facility Monday morning. The St. John’s curbside recycling program began a year ago today. — Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram

The St. John’s curbside recycling program diverted eight million pounds of waste from the landfill in its first year.

But while that’s an impressive, unexpected figure, it’s the program’s participation rate that has city officials really hyped.

Their goal was to get 50 per cent of St. John’s households recycling by the end of Year 1 — which is today. But the program has far exceeded that, with 70 per cent of city homes already sending recyclables to the curb.

“That’s not too shabby at all. We’re really happy with that,” said Coun. Sandy Hickman, chairman of the city’s public works, environment and protection standing committee.

The program — which faced numerous delays before being implemented — accepts a range of recyclables, including aluminum containers, boxes, cardboard, paper and tin cans.

These items are sorted into two types, containers and paper products. They’re then bagged for curbside collection every second week.

Jason Sinyard, the city’s manager of waste management, believes the program has gotten such good buy-in because residents were looking for such a program.

An easy-to-follow system and extensive advertising campaign also helped with the participation rates, he said.

While city officials are raving about the program’s numbers, the operator of the Robin Hood Bay regional landfill’s recycling facility is encouraged by the quality of recyclables residents are sending its way.

“We’re getting a lot of clean beverage containers, very little garbage,” said Scotia Recycling’s Tammy Gulliver, who noted about one per cent of the recyclables received leaves the sort lines and ends up in the garbage compacters.

Such quality helps when trying to find markets for recyclable materials.

The city program hasn’t faced any major issues in the first year, Sinyard said.

He realizes there are areas where participation is lower than others and the challenge is to get the numbers up in those places.

To achieve that, he said the city will continue with its outreach programs, which includes speaking to schools and community groups as well as knocking on doors. Sinyard explained the city has staff who go door-to-door asking people why they’re aren’t participating.

“We’ve found that to be very beneficial, actually, when people get to talk to someone face-to-face it real helps them to understand the program, to buy into it,” he said.

Regionally, with the St. John’s program up and running, Sinyard said more and more municipalities in the region are rolling out their curbside programs.

The increased volume would be welcomed by Scotia Recycling, as it tries to build its business there.

“It’s going well,” said Gulliver. “We hope to see more communities coming.”

To mark the program’s first anniversary, and Waste Reduction Week in Canada, residents are invited to tour Robin Hood Bay’s recycling facility, 340 East White Hills Rd., this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more on recycling in St. John’s, visit www.curbitstjohns.ca.



Twitter: bartlett_steve

Geographic location: Robin Hood Bay, Canada, East White Hills

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Recent comments

  • Nicole
    October 18, 2011 - 23:02

    Now with this on the go and going well, LETS GET A COMPOST SYSTEM !!!!!!!

  • John Smith
    October 18, 2011 - 17:52

    The program is a great idea and I'm an active participant. As someone else alluded to earlier,the fact that you can't recycle glass jars and plastic bags etc is something that should be looked into and implemented in the near future. Plastic bags and general plastic waste is still a huge probelm worldwide.

    • Jon Doe
      October 19, 2011 - 10:25

      The government should follow the example set be Nain and Manitoba and focus on reducing the use of plastic shopping bags. http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/pollutionprevention/plastic_bags.html http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/07/24/nl-nain-bag-ban.html

  • flexxa
    October 18, 2011 - 14:52

    ...no product should be allowed to be sold unless its packaging is recyclable or naturally decomposed. Government needs to accommodate the process. We should have curbside recycling in Paradise in another 20 or 30 years :(

  • german townie
    October 18, 2011 - 13:51

    It's about time St. John's started this program. Here in Germany everyone separates their garbage. As far as glass goes, in our town there are containers for glass coloured or plain which is picked up on a regular basis. Maybe Canadians should look across the pond for ideas.

  • don
    October 18, 2011 - 13:48

    I would like to have the recyclables picked up every week with the rest of the garbage...It is so hard trying to find a place to store the bags for 2 weeks....space is an issue

  • Wasting Glass
    October 18, 2011 - 11:59

    Kudos to the program however since day one there has been one major flaw and that would be the lack of recycling of glass jars and other glass containers. Seeing how bulky they can be and the waste generated by this in relation to the ease of recycling, it is rather outragous that we still lack this part of the program based on what was initally termed as a "safety concern" by the union and didn't wanted their employees handling glass objects is a farce. I came from a small community in Nova Scotia who piloted a recycling program in the mid 90's and it has been active ever since not once rejecting recyclable items over "union issues" Again kudos to the city for the recycling program but time to take the upper hand over the unionized employees especially seeing the $30+ an hour they recevie for the same job that individiuals are forced to work for minmum wage at other private recycling facilities in the city,

    • sean
      October 18, 2011 - 15:05

      Please get your facts straight before you say the city workers are getting over $30 a hour.