We’ve probably all heard the dire news that certain countries are no longer accepting recycled materials from Canada; and that as a result, much of what was being recycled is ending up in landfill.
If so, what’s the point of all the effort? That question is not just vocalized by disgruntled patrons of coffee shops (or their online equivalent). More than once exactly that question has arisen at a municipal council meeting. Why bother with all the expense if it’s just ending up in landfill?
After talking with regional landfill acting manager Barry Kolenosky last week, we’ve got a clearer picture. Yes, some things that we would like to be recycled are ending up in landfill. But many are not.
“The markets have heated up,” says Kolenosky. “But it has to be high-quality stuff.”
The hottest of all at the moment is metal. None of that is ending up in landfill if anybody can get their hands on it, because prices are good, and that includes the metal bits in electronics.
“That’s why B&Es are happening at our landfills,” says Kolenosky. “I’m not kidding!”
Cardboard is “kind of holding its own,” he continues. But the quality needs to be there. The same goes for paper. If it’s stuff with dirt or food stains on it, recyclers don’t want it.
Which brings us to plastics. Hard plastics are in high demand. Plastic film isn’t – unless it is of very high quality. Much of it isn’t, so it ends up in the pit.
The hard stuff, though, “they can’t keep up with the demand,” Kolenosky says.
‘They,’ are the regional landfill at Westlock. It’s managed by Tom Moore, ex of the landfill at Wagner. He’s got a plant that turns hard plastics into pellets, which are then shipped on to plants that turn them into a variety of products, including lawn furniture, posts, boards and what have you.
Then there’s glass.
“It’s not recyclable,” says Kolenosky. “The cost is too high.”
Used oil is still being picked up and hauled off at no charge, although some companies are pushing for an additional surcharge. Kolenosky says he’s pushed back on that, given that customers already pay a surcharge when they buy it, plus the carbon tax. So far, so good on that file.
In other landfill news, the M.D. is looking for a full-time manager.
Finally, look for a brand new, dedicated landfill website, Kolenosky says, launching sometime in the next week or two.