City of Red Deer councillor Ken Johnston

Plastics recycling program expands in Red Deer

Recyclers rejoice.

Recyclers rejoice.

Effective immediately, plastics No. 1 through No. 7 will be accepted in the City of Red Deer blue box program, multi-family bins and at drop-off depots just in time for yuletide season.

Up until now the only plastic accepted for recycling by the city was No. 2.

Now plastics like small yogurt containers, Tim Hortons cup lids, clamshell packing used for selling baked goods, plant pots, household detergent bottles and more can be recycled.

“It will really expand the types of containers residents can recycle,” said Janet Whitesell, waste management superintendent, at the recycling announcement made at the city’s Waste Management Facility on Monday.

“It is something we routinely hear from our customers, that they’d like to be able to recycle more items so we’re really excited to be able to increase our service level and meet that expectation.”

Recycling expansion will not affect current monthly utility charges for customers. The additional level of service does incur some additional costs for the City, but these were already incorporated into the 2016 utility rates submitted in the operating budget.

The resin identification code in the triangular recycling symbol can normally be found on the bottom or neck of containers.

Whitesell said the city has been looking to expand plastic recycling for a while. Working with the international company contracted for the blue box program, the city is confident there’s sufficient market for the plastics.

“We do share the revenue with our contractor for the sale of the material. At best it tends to offset about 10 per cent of the cost of the program.”

But recycling has the potential to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the city landfill.

She said in 2013 the city adopted a 10-year goal to reduce waste down to 500 kilograms per capita per year. Right now 900 to 1,000 kilograms per capita per year is buried in the landfill.

“Certainly there’s some big steps to take to achieve (the goal). But with the participation of residents in programs like this, they’re certainly achievable.”

Red Deer currently collects about 4,500 metric tons a year of recycling from the blue box and multi-family program.

She said it’s difficult to say how much more will be collected now, but 92 per cent of residents at single family homes recycle with blue boxes.

“Plastics are really light so we expect the volume to go up quite a bit, but we track everything by weight.”

Residents can get a second blue box for free to hold more plastics and have it delivered by the city by calling the Blue Line at 403-340-BLUE (2583).

Plastics the city will not accept for recycling are plastic films (grocery bags, bubble wrap, food wrap), Styrofoam (containers, packing peanuts), and unnumbered plastics.

Whiteshell said the plastic bags gum up conveyor belts at recycling storting facilities when they are included in blue boxes. But a number of grocery stores in the city do collect plastic bags.

Blue boxes are collected on the same day as curbside garbage and are picked up on all statutory holidays with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Residents should prepare recyclable materials by rinsing them out to ensure they are free of any food contamination, and discard small lids as they cannot be processed at the recycling facility.

For a full list of acceptable items that can go in the blue box, visit reddeer.ca/recycling.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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