Recycling program benefits environment and community

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The GNWT celebrated Waste Reduction Week last week from October 15 to 21.

Since 2005, ENR has recycled 2,546,728 kg of aluminum through its beverage container program, or enough to make 816 Twin Otter planes, the department stated in a news release.

Its other recycling programs have also been successful, with 214 tonnes of electronics recycled since February 2016. The Northwest Territories is also currently the only in Canada with a territory-wide, single-use retail bag program which diverted nearly 50 million bags from landfills between January 2010 and March of this year, representing a 71 per cent reduction.

But the recycling programs don’t benefit just the environment.

The Bottle Depot’s Drop and Go program, currently available in Yellowknife and Hay River, gives residents refunds for the recyclables, or they can donate to a local charity of their choice. As of April this year, registered charities that are signed on to the Drop and Go program can issue tax receipts for people who donate their containers. The computer prints a bar code sticker for each bag of recyclables, which is used to calculate the refund amount.

“So if all the folks are really really busy, I just come here, I have my bar code, I leave it here and I’m gone,” said Joe Dragon, deputy minister of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

Meaghan Richens/NNSL photo.
Adam Pich owner of the Bottle Depot in Yellowknife and Joe Dragon, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) at an event recognizing waste reduction week.

Once the bag is processed electronically, the refund can be picked up later or donated to one of the local charities and an email with a receipt is sent to the donor.

“It’s an easy way to get these diverted from landfills, number one and secondly in terms of being able to donate to a cause that you want to, and you don’t have to wait in line,” said Dragon.

This system has been in place since March 2016, but it was used as a pilot project for the Yellowknife Association for Community Living’s (YKACL) annual fundraiser last spring.

Daron Letts from the YKACL said the system improved fundraising for the Gumboot Rally by providing an extra tool.

“People that might not be reaching for the chequebook or their pocketbook to make a donation are very eager to get rid of their recyclables in this fashion and it results in funds for our association, which go to our clients and it also results in a tax receipt for the donors,” Letts said.

A team that typically fundraised a $400 donation for the rally was able to reach $800 dollars, due in large part to this program Letts said.

He expects more teams will embrace this fundraising method for next year’s rally in the spring and hopes people will make use of it to donate throughout the year as well.

“It’s a win-win and the environment also benefits, it’s really tremendous,” said Letts.

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