Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Recycling ambassadors preach merit of oil disposal

As “recycling ambassadors,” Amber Becker and Yasmin Aidun’s responsibilities during Westerner Days include promoting the recycling of oil and other materials.

As “recycling ambassadors,” Amber Becker and Yasmin Aidun’s responsibilities during Westerner Days include promoting the recycling of oil and other materials.

But they also take turns donning the over-stuffed suit of Mr. Oil Drop — mascot for the Alberta Used Oil Management Association.

With temperatures pushing 30 C on Wednesday, the prospects of tramping about the asphalt midway as Mr. Oil Drop were not inviting.

“We only go for a half hour — short sprints,” said Aidun.

The perspiration is worthwhile if children are drawn to the rotund character, and their parents accept a pamphlet about recycling or decide to visit Becker and Aidun’s booth in the salon area of the Prairie Pavilion.

There, they find a wealth of information about recycling oil, oil filters and oil containers, as well as tires, electronics and paints.

“Oil is actually the single most hazardous recyclable material that we deal with,” said Becker, an environmental earth science student at the University of Alberta who is spending her summer working for the Alberta Used Oil Management Association.

In fact, one litre of used oil can contaminate a million litres of water — making it critical that such liquids be disposed of properly.

By taking it to collection sites like the south Red Deer Canadian Tire or the Sylvan Lake or Lacombe bottle depots, the oil can be processed into lubricating oil or burner fuel, said Becker.

“It does not go onto the roads or in landfills or back into the environment.”

Similarly, she said, it’s important to ensure that used oil filters and oil containers are dealt with in a similar fashion.

A filter can contain a cup of oil and is about 85 per cent steel — material that can have a valuable second life.

Oil containers should not be mixed with other recyclable plastics, but surrendered to the same collection sites for use in products like fence posts, parking curbs and patio furniture, said Becker.

Aidun, who’s studying urban planning at the University of Alberta, has a summer job with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority.

She’s pitching the importance of recycling tires, electronics and paints.

Used tires can be processed into playground surfaces, roofing shingles, bricks, mulch and landfill liners, with that range of products expanding, said Aidun.

“The University of Alberta is partnering with Alberta Recycling to see if recycled tire being incorporated into roads is something that they want to move ahead with.”

Electronic devices can be stripped to remove hazardous materials like mercury and battery parts, as well as precious metals and other valuable components. And used paint can be turned into new paint or fuel, and its containers reclaimed.

“To date, about six million litres of paint have been recycled, 85 million tires have been recycled and six million TVs and computers,” said Aidun of the Alberta figures.

Locally, the Red Deer Waste Management Facility south of the city accepts all three materials.

Other Central Alberta depots can be found on the Alberta Recycling Management Authority website at

Depots for used oil, filters and containers can also be located on the Alberta Used Oil Management Association website at

Last year, more than 95 million litres of used oil, 8.4 million filters and 2.5 million kg of used plastic containers were recycled in Alberta.

Becker and Aidun said public awareness about recycling appears high. The options for disposing of oil seems well-known, said Becker, although the same may not be true for other oil products.

“People did not know that the containers and the filters could be recycled as well.”

Becker and Aidun will be at Westerner Days throughout the week.

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