On a rainy evening earlier this month, I was channel surfing and came across the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) show “Suzuki Diaries: Future City.” Tuning in a few minutes late, I discovered David Suzuki, host of the award-winning “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki,” traveling across Canada with his daughter, Sarika, to discover whether or not some of Canada’s largest cities are ready for the challenges of the future. Intrigued, I put the remote down.
The show visited Montreal, Toronto, Windsor, Edmonton and Vancouver. In Montreal, we got a look at the Edible Campus at McGill University and Lufa Farms, the world’s first rooftop greenhouse. Then it was on to Toronto, where parts of the waterfront are being re-developed and turned into beautiful eco-friendly public parks such as Don River Park, Underpass Parks and Sherbourne Common. The next stop was Detroit/Windsor, where community gardens are everywhere. Further west, a stop
in Edmonton at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, a world leader in recycling and composting; and finally in Vancouver, where Sadhu Johnston, the deputy city manager, said the city’s goal is to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.
After watching this show, I was especially interested in the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. Could Western New York do more to increase its recycling efforts and join the City of Edmonton in becoming a leader in waste management?
The Edmonton Waste Management Centre achieved its international status in just over 20 years, starting with a small pilot program testing the economics of curbside blue box recycling. For 11 years, Edmonton had been recycling household waste with a 90 percent participation rate, one of the highest of any city in the world with a curbside recycling program. Since 1988, approximately a quarter-million ton of recyclables have been collected through curbside recycling and recycling depot programs. Today, the Centre offers residents Christmas tree recycling, a community recycling depot, an Eco Station for household hazardous waste, a blue bin recycling program for townhouses, condos and apartments, Big Bin Events for large waste items, a Reuse Centre, an electronics and electrical recycling facility, Assisted Waste collection service for customers who have difficulty getting their recycling or garbage to the curb, and commercial waste management services.
With all the recycling going on in the city, the Edmonton Waste Management Centre is making good use of the waste by using:
- landfill gas to produce electricity
- organic waste collected from city households and biosolids (sewage sludge) as resources to create compost
- waste that is non-recyclable or compostable to produce ethanol
- an eco-friendly paper and glass recycling facility to turn the recycled waste back into paper products for sale in the city
- the world’s first industrial scale municipal waste-to-biofuels facility to divert 90 percent of its residential waste from landfills.
Just like Edmonton, Western New Yorker’s can increase recycling rates by just taking a minute to check the bottom of an item to see if it can be recycled. Also, think about how you can reuse the item. Want to be even more involved? Come to the next Buffalo Recycling Alliance meeting Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, in the Larkin at Exchange Building, 726 Exchange St., Suite 525.
Here’s some food for thought from the Partnership for the Public Good on recycling before the meeting.