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REPORTING · 2nd February 2012
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Understanding the Environment presented at Council’s Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, January 23rd. Barb Hall and Ken Maitland discussed the future of recycling in Kitimat.

Hall explained the history of K.U.T.E., it began as a challenge program in the high school and was handed over to the parents. It started small and moved to several different locations before it settled down in the Service Centre. Hall also told Council the equipment they use in recycling. They have made several changes in the last year.

“We took a very hard look at our business and we’re a recycling society, not a pick up society. We have quit the business pick ups. We took the insurance and we sold the truck so we are out of the pick up business completely,” said Hall. “We have several products we are recycling and it’s in two different streams. One is things like cardboard and paper and tin and aluminium and the prices are based on market price.”

Those are hard to manage because of the fluctuation. One trailer of paper went out and after shipping, they received a cheque for $1.

“The other is the stewardship program. That’s things like the paint and the appliances and the electronics and smoke detectors, batteries and compact florescent lights and those are contracts and the prices are for a year. It fluctuates but not the same,” said Hall.

They also operate a trading post where people bring and take things. They have no idea what volume goes through it but there is a variety and a lot of it does not last even a day.

Maitland explained the stewardship programs. The provincial Government mandated a stewardship program with the manufactures of products and told them to implement a recycling program. However, there is not a lot of Education in the smaller areas as to what items can be recycled.

Many electronics or appliances have a recycling fee. However, if it goes into the land fill, it winds up costing taxpayers a second time for land fill fee. Because a lot of these products can leak, when they do leak and have to be cleaned up, it costs taxpayers a third time with a land fill remediation fee.

Maitland also expressed it was expensive to move stuff out of Kitimat. A barge service could reduce the cost by 50%. He wanted to see an education program in the north followed by a ban on the products going into the landfill about a year after the education period and remove them from there.

Hall expressed education is the key but they have to repeat something 12 times before people will retain it. She had some ideas for Council to discuss.

First off, she suggested using the Regional Districts recent waste audit on Terrace and Thornhill to understand what Kitimat is dealing with and come up with ideas for the landfill. A large volume of items, food, cardboard, clothing, grass clippings, trees, etc are all compostable and 50% of the waste going into the Terrace landfill was compostable.

If compost items are composted rather then going into the landfill, it creates a material for gardening. Second, this generates methane and creates voids in the landfill where the landfill could sink or fill up with water and this could enhance leeching. They suggested not picking up grass clippings.

Second, Hall suggested enforcing the bag limits.

Third, grass and shingles could be used for landfill cover. It’s supposed to be done daily. A lot of the volume is cover. If they could use something going into the landfill as cover, they are killing two birds with one stone.

Acting Mayor Mario Feldhoff inquired as to the cardboard ban at the dump. Hall replied they are getting more cardboard, however, Maitland pointed out the quality of the material was not good because businesses are not protecting it from the elements. Bins for cardboard fill up with water and it is sopping wet when they get it making it useless.

Feldhoff asked about the way Terrace was looking after their recyclables. Hall said there would be a larger uptake. However, unmanned containers are a problem as they come with “God knows what.” It was not just mixed recyclables. “You don’t know what you’re going to get when you open the containers,” said Hall. “I’d be afraid to open them.” Hall said in Rupert, they had a nightmare with their unmanned recycling containers.

Maitland added recycling was an uphill battle because people believe they are creating jobs by not recycling. He stated this was far from the truth and people needed to be educated better about recycling.

Councillor Mary Murphy stated people learn better with visual components. Councillor Rob Goffinet agreed with it taking twelve times for people to learn and provided a few ideas for them to teach.

Councillor Edwin Empinado inquired about the educational program. Maitland stated there was little education to the public as to what can be recycled. There were television ads about what is supposed to be recycled but this is not happening with the small appliances.

Hall suggested the District of Kitimat have an energy audit, it might be a good idea. She suggested idling avoidance, reviewing grass cutting frequency and looking at building and street lighting equipment.

Feldhoff commented there is a program for dimming street lights during the wee hours of the morning. He suggested looking into it.

There were no further questions so the representatives of K.U.T.E. left the meeting. Goffinet invited them back several more times.