Recycling Council of Alberta update: leading the charge, keeping pace with COVID-19
The Recycling Council of Alberta is one of our most active, hard working provincial associations, diligently promoting information, education, resources and advocacy on behalf of the recycling and waste management industry.
The RCA's Covid-19 resources page is a well organized source of links to information and resources for recyclers in Alberta and around North America, with links to topics including: The Safety of Reuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In April, Alberta environmental groups, including the Recycling Council of Alberta, Waste Free Edmonton, Plastic-Free YYC and Environment Lethbridge, announced their dedication to sharing a common message in the province. The message being that it is possible to continue to follow public safety measures and social distancing, while also acting to improve the environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. See the full story here.
"Alberta has excellent examples of reduction efforts across the province including reuse, repair and recycling businesses, events, groups and communities," remarked Christina Seidel, executive director of the RCA. "While some of these organizations have had to shut down temporarily or limit hours, there are still many actions people can take with the environment in mind."
According to Briana Loughlin, co-founder of Plastic-Free YYC, "The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely posing many challenges for the zero-waste movement including small, local businesses who are being hit hard. It is important that we support these businesses that make conscious efforts to reduce waste or offer zero waste alternatives."
"Our buying power has never been stronger and will shape our post-pandemic future." Briana Loughlin.
In early May, the RCA provided an update on actions and developments since the pandemic hit in March, which includes recent advances for the Alberta Farm Composting Project, recycling professionals training, and positive progress reports on their work with five Alberta communities in developing their updated roadmap strategy for waste management.
Mid-May, the government of Alberta approved expanded electronics recycling in the province, in large part as a response to Covid-19 related shifts in demand.
In brief, based on a two-year $43 million pilot project, the Alberta government has approved the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) to use reserve funds to recycle up to 24,600 tonnes of electronics products that were not accepted previously in the program. Under this project, municipalities will now receive funding for collecting the additional electronics included in the recycling expansion. The expanded electronics recycling products list includes: audio visual equipment, telecom, cell phone and wireless devices, electronic gaming equipment, small home appliances, portable power tools, toys, musical instruments and solar panels. There will be no cost to consumers to recycle the additional products during the pilot.
On top of all their hard work, the RCA produces one of the industry's best and most relevant podcasts. On the Cusp is a series of "zero waste podcasts" featuring industry experts and spokespeople on topics ranging from EPR to Ontario's BlueBox legislation. The most recent On the Cusp is titled: "Moving towards zero waste during the Covid-19 pandemic."
See all of the RCA's podcasts, available for free, at https://recycle.ab.ca/.
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.