Recycling: Can We Do Better?
With many residents voicing a desire to see curb-side recycling in Wetaskiwin, we wanted to update you on why this hasn’t happened yet. There are many changes occurring right now in the recycling industry, and we have opted to continue exploring options while watching the market to ensure that any recycling program introduced locally is a stable one. Here’s what we’ve discovered over the course of our research:
The Cost of Recycling has Increased Substantially
Recycling was relatively cheap (yes, we pay to recycle) until China closed its border to certain types of scrap imports—including plastic and paper—at the beginning of 2018. It was cheaper to crush unwanted plastic and paper waste into bales and send it across oceans than to transport it at home by rail or truck.
Since then, most Alberta municipalities have been struggling to manage the increased recycling costs. Cities are now either paying to have the recyclables sorted to increase revenue opportunities, or they are banning certain items from their recycling programs as they are no longer considered ‘recyclable’. The municipalities of Leduc, Devon, St. Albert, Edmonton, and Calgary all made alterations to their curbside blue-bag program as a direct result of these increased expenses, and Edmonton-area waste management officials have been looking for new international markets for cardboard and paper.
There is No Ideal Solution
We are currently looking at alternative recycling options, but this global recycling dilemma will likely persist until all single-use plastics are eliminated. Rolling out a blue bag program at this stage would be expensive given the increased costs, and its longevity as a solution is in question considering the changes occurring within the recycling industry at this time. We will continue to review options and, as per Council’s direction, staff will be consulting with the public on this topic later this year.
If you have any recycling ideas that you would like to share, please do! Feel free to email any suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.