An endless cycle of our own making

Joel van der Veen
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It seems fitting — yet still frustrating — that the issue of curbside recycling pickup has been trapped in something of an endless cycle of its own in the City of Moose Jaw.

Joel van der Veen

Granted, the issue doesn’t come to mind often. In our household, it’s roughly once a month, when the papers and aluminum cans and milk jugs and cardboard boxes have piled up so high that something must be done.

Clearing out the recycling involves loading up the van and driving to at least two locations to drop everything off: the SARCAN depot downtown, and either Pla-Mor Palace on South Hill or the Sobeys parking lot in the north-east end.

(Neither depot accepts everything, so if I forget and go to South Hill first, I then have to drive to the opposite end of the city to drop off my plastic, numbered one through seven.)

It’s not that process that frustrates me. It’s when I arrive there and realize how few people here take recycling seriously.

Apparently, some of us have found creative ways to interpret the signs on the bins. I remember seeing a shattered fish tank and an inkjet printer, unceremoniously dumped in the bin marked “GLASS.”

(That was months ago. Now the bins don’t accept glass at all. I understand the logistics are complicated, but we have a glass recycling plant within city limits. There’s got to be a way.)

I see jars and bottles left resting outside bins intended for other material, as if the culprit hoped the recyclers would take pity on the orphaned glass.

I see microwave ovens left outside the SARCAN depot, within mere inches of the sign that reminds people that SARCAN doesn’t take microwave ovens.

Recently, I noticed a clever display at SARCAN consisting of dozens of vintage and unique drink containers, from ancient Pepsi cans to decanters in funny shapes.

More recently, I’ve noticed the addition of a sign, asking people to stop trying to steal from the collection, or else it will be removed and hidden from public viewing.

It goes without saying that I don’t intend to shame any of the hard-working people at SARCAN, or the other fine people who make our current recycling system work.

And I realize that I could pay a paltry monthly fee to have Crown Shred and Recycling or Loraas or Wascana to come pick up my recycling.

But the current system works for me, and for many other people.

If the city wants to prove it’s serious about recycling, it needs to change its tactics — to make recycling so simple and straightforward that even the people who don’t care about it will use it because they have no reason not to.

My former hometown, Davidson, introduced curbside recycling pickup a couple of years ago, and there haven’t been any riots over the issue.

This is a town of 1,000 people, where the current mayor was elected by acclamation.

If it can get its act together, so can we. Or so you’d think.

In September, Moose Jaw city council defeated a motion to accept the environmental advisory committee’s recommendation to place curbside recycling pickup on the budget committee’s agenda with a targeted start date of June 1, 2014.

Coun. Don Mitchell noted that with the motion’s defeat, it’s unlikely the city will be able to implement such a program by the year’s end.

Some councillors said they didn’t have enough information. Others said introducing such a program would interfere with private businesses that offer the same service.

(By that logic, the city should shut down its sewage system to avoid competing with the portable toilet company.)

Mitchell also observed that curbside recycling has been a topic of discussion for five years.

Five years.

“There’s clearly an interest from citizens in this,” he said at the Sept. 16 meeting.

If that’s the case, city council needs to respond.

Otherwise, the cycle will continue.


Follow Joel van der Veen on Twitter @ JVDV88.

Organizations: Sobeys, Moose Jaw city council

Geographic location: South Hill, Wascana

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Recent comments

  • Erin
    December 02, 2013 - 12:26

    I would love, love, love curbside recycling. So simple! Also, I'd love to have a ban one single bags at stores. How amazing would that be? The Municipality of Wood Buffalo, where the Urban Service Area of Fort McMurray is located, banned them a few years ago and it was wonderful. :) Lets Go Green, Moose Jaw!