Green machine

Last Updated: 2017/06/15 06:25:22 AM

Province Boasts Highest Recycling Rate of Drink Containers in North America, Report Finds

By: Stefanie Lasuik 

Manitoba is becoming the blue bin province. While residents of other provinces are slowing down, more Manitobans are recycling their drink containers — and it’s making a difference.

Recycle Everywhere’s annual report, which will be released today, says Manitobans recycled enough beverage containers to fill 1,042 train cars in 2016, effectively preventing more than 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from reaching the air. That’s the equivalent of the annual emissions from about 5,700 cars.

One of the most striking revelations from the report: Manitoba boasts the highest recovery-rate increase in North America from 2010 and 2016. That means 70 per cent of all sealed, single-serve containers are finding their way into blue bins — a five per cent increase from last year and a 28 per cent jump from 2010.

Ken Friesen, executive director of Recycle Everywhere, attributes the change to greater public awareness.

"We have to thank all the people in Manitoba. This increase from 42 to 70 per cent is not just a result of the beverage industry and Recycle Everywhere doing what it does," he said.

Cathy Cox, the provincial minister for sustainable development, said she’s "thrilled" with the recovery rate and congratulated the organization for "tremendous progress."

This year, Recycle Everywhere focused on getting more bins into parks, arenas, sporting facilities, and other public places. The province is currently home to 55,000 Recycle Everywhere bins.

Friesen has seen a culture change, where people now notify Recycle Everywhere of areas that could use blue bins.

"The tone and attitude about recycling has really changed in the past five, six years. When you talk to people about recycling, they usually think of it as something positive, upbeat," said Friesen, adding this sets Manitoba apart from other provinces.

"In some places, they do it because they might get something back or some incentive. In other places, they’re not anywhere near we are in the recovery rate," he said.

Increased recycling has also helped reduce litter, said Friesen. In Brandon, the litter rate has gone down 75 per cent, the report says. Winnipeggers have contributed to a 41 per cent reduction.

But the provincial non-profit’s work isn’t done. The goal for this year is to have 75 per cent of drink containers find new lives as containers, bikes, books and other products.

This year, McKim Communications Group, the agency that creates Recycle Everywhere’s advertisements, will target the most stubborn demographic — young males — with its "Whatever it takes" campaign.

That’s the message behind this year’s advertisements — to do whatever it takes to reach the target 75 per cent recovery rate.

Beyond recycling, Friesen would like to see Manitobans also focus on composting.

"As a Manitoban, I think... in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, composting is the single most important thing related to waste that can be done now," he said, acknowledging recycling also plays a big role.

Recycling doesn’t just make the province greener, it also helps the economy, said Friesen, adding it’s less expensive for companies to use recycled materials than to extract new resources.

While Friesen is pleased with how far the province has come, he’s looking forward to progress in 2017.

"(We) are committed to doing whatever it takes to get to 75 per cent recovery of all beverage containers sold in Manitoba," he said.

Source:  Winnipeg Free Press

By Stefanie Lasuik