Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Recycling RMWB

The first I heard about a potential curbside recycling program for the RMWB was when I was contacted for a telephone survey on the topic. I owned a home in Abasand at the time, and didn't realize that it was one of the areas being considered for a trial run of such a program. When I did the survey I made my thoughts very clear - we needed curbside recycling, immediately and badly.

I spent a good part of my adult life in a large Canadian city where curbside recycling was well-established. It was just what you did. It was effortless, didn't require a great deal of thought, and just made sense. When I moved to Fort Mac I was astonished by the lack of a curbside recycling program for two reasons - the first being that such programs just make sense, and the second being that it's just a wonderful way to help the region's environmental reputation.

Now, I do use the yellow recycling centre bins for paper, cardboard, and glass. And I do take bottles down to the recycling centre (although I tend to hold onto those for bottle drives as I don't really like the recycling centre smell and atmosphere much). However, the beauty of curbside recycling is the ease. For people who are not as inclined to make the effort to recycle, or those who don't have access to a vehicle to drive recycling to collection points, it makes recycling a lot more accessible.

Unfortunately I left Abasand and moved to a new area prior to the trial program being established. As a result I didn't know much about the trial curbside recycling program, but I put out a request on Twitter to ask for input from those who have been using the program and was delighted when two RMWB residents took the time to respond.

One of the only real complaints I noted was the size of the recycling and garbage bins provided during the trial program. Both respondents felt the recycling bins were larger than they needed, and that because of their size less frequent pick-ups of the recycling would be sufficient. Some homes received smaller garbage bins and these were felt to be a bit too small, particularly due to a narrow bottom on the bin.

One other complaint was about lids being placed back onto the bins after pick-up so that water and/or snow doesn't collect in them. This happens with my garbage cans too and it irks me a bit but is pretty minor (as my respondent noted as well).

Both people who responded had almost entirely positive things to say about the program. There appear to be some minor bugs and kinks to work out but there always are with new ventures like this. Both respondents were heavily in favour of continuing the program, and while initially the RMWB planned to halt the trial while they evaluated it the good news is that they decided to continue the program during the evaluation process.

I was so glad to get the input from those using the program as it pretty much reflected what I feel to be true. I think people in the community would embrace curbside recycling as people tend to embrace anything that makes sense as long as it is easy for them to do so. Recycling is important, of course, but when you make it effortless then people just make it into a habit as opposed to something they need to devote a lot of thought or effort to. I think we all know that people are fundamentally a bit lazy and things that require too much work often go undone (like me and vacuuming). It's only when you make it very easy do the majority of people truly participate.

I suspect the program has been a success and this is why it is continuing during the evaluation process. I cannot wait to see the results of the evaluation and I fully expect that curbside recycling will become a city-wide service. This is good news for me, people, and I think it's good news for every resident and the RMWB, too.

See? Even he's excited about curbside recycling!

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