Fort McMurray AB – Entering Fort McMurray after an absence of a few years, growth and changes are obvious to me. The magnificent Sawridge Hotel welcomes us efficiently and we get to say hello to Alberta CARE’s executive director, Linda Macdonald, my neighbor in the City of Leduc who is setting up the banquet hall that will be our ‘home for the next few days. I am here to photograph the conference, and to learn about recycling so that I can write about it and eventually share my knowledge and fascination with others.
This conference is hosted by Alberta Coordinated Action for Recycling Enterprises (CARE) with its Diamond Sponsors, the RM of Wood Buffalo and K & K Recycling Services, and it is meant for municipal leaders, public works employees, landfill operators, community recycling associations and non-profit groups. There is an impressive list of Platinum (Shell Canada), Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsors on record.
In preparation for this Fall Conference on the topics of Recycling and Waste Management, I was invited to visit GEEP, Global Electric Electronic Processing, a company I had met at other recycling events in the province. Driving to the very North-East corner of Edmonton, I was not aware until my arrival that GEEP is in fact owned by the City of Edmonton and located at the Clover Bar Landfill Site. It is a massive waste management site, comparable in size to Calmar, the small town I lived in for many years, West of Leduc. GEEP’s large shop presented specific areas where TVs, computers and other electronic items were disassembled, and components meticulously placed in their proper bins. Toured by Scott Loughran, the youthful and knowledgeable general manager, I was impressed by the order around us and the workers’ fast pace and cheerful disposition! A comfortable lounge was designed for visiting dignitaries and Industry guests, where the view was excellent and some items of an ‘antique’ nature were on display: no doubt, items that had found their way into GEEP…
The CARE conference started on a Thursday morning and a dynamic crowd made its way to the spacious banquet room where several corporate entities extolled their services through colorful exhibits. Cutting EDGE, “Renewable Rubber Resources”, owner of the largest tire shredder in Canada (located in Ponoka) was among them, and three of the CleanGen membership group spent the week tirelessly explaining their services and forming new alliances: Albert Klyne, his sister Catherine Pearen, marketing ace Melissa Minks and partner Margaret Ward were interesting and passionate ambassadors for this industry.
A delegation of seven individuals from Nicaragua attended the conference, as a second of three annual visits to Alberta to learn of our recycling initiatives. With limited English, they were assisted by Sandor Arguello, GEEP’s Logistics and Accounts Manager, also a native of their country! It demonstrated how various cultures share in the keen desire to protect our environment through green practices.
Robert Smith, CARE’s chairman, also with the Athabasca Waste Management Commission, opened up the proceedings with an interesting presentation on recycling facts of his region; he spoke of wildlife management and operational costs at their landfill site, of lecheate collection and elimination (a bi-product of waste piling) and community acceptance. Jim Donaldson of Leduc County has now created the Alberta Wood Waste Recycling Association, a closed-loop wood recycling service and non-profit organisation that will donate a portion of its membership fees to a local charity.
Many products have to be removed from our environment and recycled in new ways: following the successful methods of countries like Scandinavia, several entities in our province –and across the nation- work tirelessly to create new products using recycled materials: plastics for example, are very hard to recycle and they need the recycling authorities’ attention. Did you know that raw plastics in a landfill can exist for… a million years!?
In Part 2 of this report , we will discuss many recycling initiatives that will enhance cleaner air and water in our environment.