March 12, 2007

Nfld recycling program marks one billion beverage containers diverted from landfill

Newfoundland and Labrador recently marked a milestone in the province's beverage container recycling program, having diverted more than one billion containers from waste disposal sites since the program's launch ten years ago.

At a celebration in Marystown, Environment and Conservation Minister Clyde Jackman unveiled a "one billion saved" banner at one of the province's Green Depots. Similar banners will be distributed to the other 37 Green Depots around the province

Jackman called attention to the economic as well as environmental benefits of the provincial beverage recycling program. "It is evident today that this program is helping to protect the environment," he said, adding that "throughout Newfoundland and Labrador there are more than 250 people directly employed in the beverage container recycling program in the province's green depots, processing centers, quality assurance facilities and transportation providers, much of which is based in rural Newfoundland and Labrador."

John Scott, chair and CEO of the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB), said the province's residents recycle about ten million containers every month. Even so, however, 160,000 used beverage containers are still being thrown away every day. "As residents become more educated about the importance of recycling, we anticipate that more and more beverage containers will be diverted from our waste disposal sites," said Scott, adding, "We're hoping that with the realization that we have reached such a significant goal together, people will be more compelled than ever to recycle each and every last container."

The provincial beverage recycling program is a deposit-refund system for used beverage containers. To date Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have collectively recycled more than 400 million cans, translating into significant energy savings: It takes 95% per cent less energy to produce new cans from recycled aluminum than from virgin resources. Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a bulb for four hours. In Newfoundland and Labrador, enough glass bottles have been recycled to light that bulb for more than 40,000 years. Recycling ten plastic beverage containers provides enough fiberfill for one ski jacket. The province's residents have recycled enough plastic drink containers to produce fiberfill for more than 30 million ski jackets.

In other activities, Jackman and Scott together announced that $50,000 in funding from the Newfoundland and Labrador Waste Management Trust Fund has been approved to support the Burin Peninsula Waste Management Corporation. The funds will help the corporation fulfill its mandate and carry out associated activities, including the hiring of a regional waste management co-ordinator and the eventual establishment of new recycling and other waste diversion programs.

The recently-formed Burin Peninsula Waste Management Corporation is made up of municipal representatives from eight sub-regions on the Burin Peninsula. Its mandate is to develop consensus on and implement a comprehensive waste management plan for the Burin Peninsula as a whole, building on work undertaken by an earlier committee that looked at various long-term options for the peninsula.

"Operating in isolation from one another with 18 separately owned and managed waste disposal sites on the Burin Peninsula no longer works in the best interest of our residents or our region," said corporation chair Cyril Dodge. "It is inefficient, costly and environmentally unacceptable. The time to take a different approach is long overdue," he added.

The Waste Management Trust Fund is administered by MMSB, a provincial Crown agency reporting to the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

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