Recycling in Tumbler Ridge

Lynsey Kitching
 

At the Encorp Return-it Depot in town, business is much busier in the spring and summer. This week, there is about 50 bags worth of recycling to be picked up and taken to Dawson Creek, then eventually to the lower mainlands. In the spring or summer the amount basically doubles.

 

In Tumbler Ridge, there are a few different ways to recycle. This week we’ll have a look at the Encorp Return—It Depot here in town, which is owner operated. Last year, province—wide through Encorp there were 361 million aluminum cans, 340 million plastic bottles, 199 million glass bottles and 77 million drink boxes and cartons recycled.
 
At the depot, if you have paid a deposit for a container, such as pop, water or juice containers, or alcohol, you can bring it in to get the deposit back. Janette Johnson has been an employee at the depot for the last six years. “People come in with 50 cents worth, and some people come in with $50 worth. Our recycle goes to Encorp in Dawson Creek and then from Dawson Creek to Prince George, and then down to the lower mainland,” she says.
 
The depot is much busier in the spring and summer than in the winter. Johnson says, “Right now it’s dead. In the summer, we usually get 100 bags a week, but today if we ship out 55 we’re lucky. We can fit 150 water bottles in a bag, 50 two—litre bottles and 288 cans respectively.”
 
An interesting part of the recycling process is what the products become after being recycled. Glass is turned into fibreglass insulation, sandblasting material, sand for golf courses and as an aggregate for asphalt. Plastic bottles are shredded, and then sold to become new bottles and buckets. This process uses a third less energy than manufacturing new plastic. Drink boxes and cartons are used mostly in cardboard boxes. Finally, aluminum cans are melted down and back on the shelves again in about six weeks.
 
Johnson says, “Tin or aluminum cans are the most recyclable. Also, plastic bottles are quite recyclable.”
 
As for electronics, the depot does not accept those. Unfortunately as Johnson says, “I think most people just go down and put them in the dumpster, to be quite honest. There is no place in town for it.”
 
Though recycling is a good initiative and helps save our landfills and our environment, living in the north begs some questions regarding transport. Johnson says, “With Tumbler Ridge and Dawson, if you have to truck everything to the lower mainland to get it recycled, in the end, is it worth it?”
 
In next week’s edition we will have some figures and information from the district about how much gets recycled here in Tumbler Ridge through the downtown drop-off areas, where it goes and what types of material can get recycled here in town.