The idea of recycling is one most people are on side with.
There is a rather widespread understanding we live in a world where many resources are finite and we need to make some effort to take the things we throw away which can be reprocessed and facilitate that process -- even if we haven’t all made the commitment to do it, we understand why we should.
In Yorkton we certainly have opportunities to recycle. Among Saskatchewan communities the city is a leader in terms of programs such as curbside pick-up.
But there is a question which should be asked too -- What exactly is the environmental footprint of recycling efforts?
There is more to the equation than simply feeling good about taking food cans and cardboard to the curb for pick-up and recycling.
Recycling only makes sense if the costs warrant it, and we don’t use up more resources in doing the recycling that the end product created are worth.
At the Feb. 27, meeting of Yorkton Council, the City made a wise decision in agreeing to cost-share a project to get a better vision of recycling by partially funding a study to be carried out through the University of Regina.
Michael Buchholzer, Director of Environmental Services with the City told Council, “the mandate of the Environmental Committee is to obtain zero waste to the landfill by 2026. To accomplish this, all rationalization of waste disposal, behaviors, markets, transportation costs and utilization of material must be analyzed. In order to create such a report at a reasonable cost, one must look outside the box.
Buchholzer added one avenue to achieving that knowledge “is to partner with other organizations and existing educational facilities. The University of Regina’s fourth year Environmental Systems Engineering class, along with Committees of Tomorrow and Agmar Marketing, has approached the City to support and finance a project-based report on recycling.”
The report will consist of good engineering design and principals, a market analysis and strong business case, while taking into account life-cycle analysis and the challenges of low population densities in Saskatchewan creating limited product volumes. The reports will ask the question as to whether recycling is feel-good marketing or earth-friendly behavior, detailed a report circulated to Council.
Councillor Bob Maloney noted, “I think this is a good project.” He said he has often wondered if the City was doing the right things in terms of recycling, adding the project should answer that.
Maloney’s concerns are one we should all have.
Is cardboard collected in Yorkton cost-effectively recycled in China?
Do we need to create local use options before our efforts are more than just about feeling good, while at the same time leaving a far from green footprint in the process?
With our dollars at stake, whether through City expenditures, provincial levies, or our own direct costs, there are questions which should be answered and hopefully the U of R effort will do just that.