House slippers are all you need to survive Edmonton winters, stay in touch with the world and go green.
As northern Canadians, we understand bare feet are reserved for Tahitian holidays and those two hot days in summer, but it’s sure fun to see how far life can be pushed from the comfort of our slippers.
First, the trek to the outhouse was eliminated, then the journey to the post office was nixed.
And soon, all Edmontonians will be able to help preserve the world without donning a pair of sneakers.
In 1988, the city began its curb-side recycling program and has since fine-tuned and expanded the service. Last week, that expansion took another huge leap forward with the inclusion of multi-family residences.
To be implemented incrementally over the next 18 months, the city’s 118,000 townhouse, apartment and condominium units will receive the convenient recycling service enjoyed by single-family households.
“This brings everything onto a more equitable basis,” says Bill Burn, general manager of the city’s asset management and public works department.
Most multi-family sites opting into the voluntary program will use blue bins that will accept all recyclables – with sorting being performed at the Materials Recovery Facility.
About 15 per cent of complexes will utilize the blue-bag system (which began in 1999 to replace the more costly and less-efficient blue boxes) if they lack sufficient space for a bin.
It may not be as easy as chucking newspapers off of balconies, but it sure beats trudging through the snow to one of the 21 community recycling depots. The depots will remain in place until 2004 ,when their usefulness will be re-evaluated.
The success of the new service relies on the participation of the community, but Edmontonians’ willingness to reuse and recycle has been strong, with about 60 per cent of household waste diverted from the landfill in 2001.
The rate of recycling has remained fairly constant at about 14 per cent since 1988, and the city’s composter now accounts for another 45 per cent.
Another 8,000 tonnes of recyclables are expected to be collected under the new program, pushing the bar higher as Edmonton continues to demonstrate what it means to be green. The main education for Edmonton’s recycling programs happens in Grade 4 classrooms across the city and this program will be promoted there as well.
Burn says city council is counting on youngsters to teach their parents the virtues of recycling.
Students Jeanine Went, 12, Andrew Went, 10, and Kaitlyn Fiveland, 11, attended the multi-family recycling launch last week and represented the commitment young people are making to the environment.
The 4H participants say they have recycling bins available at their schools and they encourage their friends to recycle.
“If they throw a pop can in the garbage, we tell them to put it in the recycling bin,” says the younger Went.
Mayor Bill Smith says he would like to see the city’s satellite communities place a greater emphasis on waste reduction.
“I really think that the surrounding communities should look at a reduction of what they put into landfill and start to work with the city of Edmonton – with our composter,” says Smith.
In 1996, when plans solidified for building North America’s largest composter in Edmonton, surrounding communities did not find it economically feasible to bring portions of their waste to the composter.
Now that the composter is working well, Smith believes there may be hope that will happen.
Waste services in Edmonton, including the new recycling service, are funded from property taxes as well as waste-management fees on utility bills.
The selling prices of reclaimed products like newspapers has varied substantially, depending on the demands of recyclers.
“What you want to hope for is some kind of a sustained secondary industry developing around something, so they can use us as a continual feedstock,” says Burn. “We get good value for the recyclable and they get security of supply.”