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.