The school system is going to a single stream recycling system, and the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society is not happy about it.
“We’re very disappointed with their decision to go to a single stream method,” said Kim Day, executive-director of the recycling society, which originated in 1972.
The society promotes a system where homeowners sort their recyclables into glass bottles and jars, plastics, cans and cartons and all paper and cardboard into four separate containers.
Day said the advantage to the non-profit society’s system is it creates high quality recyclables, with low rates of contamination.
“We don’t believe in single stream, because single stream has a high contamination rate,” said Day.
“Our concern is it’s two messages – it’s OK to do a single stream at school, but you have to sort it out at home.”
recyclingShe said the society’s board of directors has expressed this view to the school board.
Day did give the school board kudos for moving to an organics collection system, which will keep this waste out of landfill sites.
“The organics and garbage separation is a big step forward.”
School district spokesperson Irena Pochop said the new waste collection system has been piloted at six schools, and will be going district-wide after spring break.
It will consist of three bins for three streams: organics, recyclables and garbage.
“This will move us away from the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society model for recycling, which relied heavily on the volunteer efforts of students, teachers and other district staff, and which yielded inconsistent results,” she said. “We are also expanding our recycling program to add organics, which we haven’t done before.”
Pochop said the new system is being used in other Lower Mainland school districts and has proven to work well.
“We remain committed to acting as responsible stewards within our community and will continue to teach our students to recycle,” said Pochop. “Of course, we serve two municipalities, not just Maple Ridge. The new program will ensure all schools in our district participate in recycling. It is not a cost-saving measure – it’s the next step towards becoming a more sustainable school district.”
The school district has hired Super Save to manage its waste and recyclables
Pitt Meadows is on a different system than Maple Ridge. Pitt uses two boxes and a bag, and the system is run by Recycle B.C. Coquitlam, Langley and Vancouver are other cities also with Recycle B.C.
Pitt Meadows secondary was one of the pilot schools, and principal Mike Keenan said he sees kids recycling.
“I was, as a principal, pleasantly surprised at how well it did go,” he said, adding that he watches kids separate their waste stream at lunch, throwing apple cores and other food waste and paper plates into the organics stream, and plastic cutlery into another bin.
He said the school had previously recycled paper and containers with deposits.
With the new system, there are 18 recycling stations throughout the school, he said.
He keeps an eye on how the new system is going.
“The organics containers do gather a fair amount of material,” he said.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read wrote the school district about the changes, saying it has a role to play in getting the community recycling.
“I would like to begin by acknowledging the recent improvements that have been made to ensure that a consistent level of recycling participation is encouraged across the district. This is an important step forward and we appreciate that there are plans to develop a fuller program following a review in two years or so,” she wrote.
“Teaching our young citizens about the importance of recycling as early as possible is critical to shifting our local trajectory on this issue.
“The school district is ideally positioned to influence a shift that could lead to increased community-wide participation in recycling,” she wrote, adding that it can encourage values of environmental sustainability and social responsibility at a young age.