City & Politics, Planning

Reducing, reusing, and recycling in Regina

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Those three words have been pounded into our heads for decades, with the goal of getting us wasteful humans to think about all the garbage we produce and how we can potentially divert it from the landfill. The more we can do of each, the less of a negative impact we will have on the environment. Or so the theory goes.

If you recycle practically everything you use including paper, plastic, tin, aluminum and other products, good for you. If you don’t, well, what’s the matter with you?!

Beginning July 1, citizens of Regina will begin paying (forced to pay?) $91 per year for curbside recycling. Ontario-company Emterra Group recently won a 10-year contract to look after recyclable materials for Regina, with the company’s plant able to handle 25,000 tonnes of recyclable materials.

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Emterra currently operates 15 plants across Canada, but the Regina plant will be the first to use LEED principles in the construction of the facility. This means over 250 tonnes of recycled asphalt and 137 tonnes of recycled steel will be used to build the plant. That’s pretty impressive considering a business needs to jump through many hoops to be LEED certified.

LEED, for anyone who doesn’t know, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. According to Enermodel Engineering, “LEED is a point-based rating system; points are earned for building attributes considered environmentally beneficial. LEED differs from other rating systems in that it has quantified most of the ‘green credits.’ For example, 10 per cent of the building materials must contain recycled content to achieve the recycled content credit.”

There are 110 points over seven topic areas, including: site development; water efficiency; energy efficiency; materials selection; indoor environmental quality; innovation in design; and regional priority. Based upon how many points a new, green building achieves in its construction, it could receive a rating of certified, silver, gold or platinum.

Anyway, with this new recycling program, everyone will be forced to use it even if they don’t want to. If anyone already takes their recyclables – paper, plastic, bottles, cans, electronics, etc. – to the proper locations for disposal, having to pay $91 per year may be a hassle and big waste of money. Why have big diesel-spewing trucks picking up your recyclables when you can use your car instead?

Furthermore, there are already other options available to the community for recycling. SARCAN is the favourite option for anyone with electronics or pop bottles and cans and gives people with disabilities jobs. Smaller recycling businesses also do household pick-ups every two weeks if you have a contract with them.

These companies usually ask you to put your materials into different bins for easier sorting, but I have no problem with that request. If it makes their job easier on the other end, so they can just dump the container into specific stacks without having to laboriously sort through plastic, paper and whatever else, so be it.

This contract with Emterra will see Reginans use one bin for all their recyclables. This “single stream recycling” is said to apparently increase recovery of recyclable materials by at least 25 per cent. It may increase how much material is recovered, but how much time is it going to take employees at the facility to sort through everything in a reasonable time? Will the employees be as productive with the single stream recycling as they would be if everything was sorted beforehand? I just don’t buy it. Make sure to see at their website to find a dumpster yard rental.

On the other hand, by forcing everyone to recycle regardless of their current recycling habits, more material can be kept from going to the landfill and causing more pollution. Regina’s landfill currently looks like a mini volcano, having been packed with garbage over the years. I’d say about 10-15 years ago, when I sat on the west side of Taylor Field to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders play, that hill wasn’t as pronounced as it is now. Now, it mushrooms upward.

I agree with recycling 100 per cent. My household already has a contract with a local business to pick up our recyclables every two weeks. If the new contract means someone comes every week instead – and considering we read newspapers and magazines pretty regularly here, so produce plenty of paper products – I can live with that. And even though the company is into the single stream recycling, I will still spend a few minutes to separate everything, however helpful that may be in the end.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Just do it.


Jason Antonio is the Regina correspondent for Spectator Tribune.

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