The City of Yorkton has had a curbside recycling program for over a decade, allowing people to just toss their recycling in front of their homes once a week, to be picked up by the youth in the Prairie Harvest Employment Program.
The push now is to get more people using the program. Mayor Bob Maloney said that while the amount of use of the curbside program is improving, they want to see more.
The result of this effort is a campaign to get people more aware of the recycling program, what can be recycled. They have also launched a survey to get feedback on the curbside recycling program.
JeanAnne Teliske with Environmental Services said that because Yorkton was on the lower end of curbside recycling usage comparing cities of comparable size, they wanted to find a way to engage the city’s population.
“We want to increase participation, increase awareness and increase engagement about our waste and recycling programs here in Yorkton.”
Maloney appreciates how the survey is being used as an educational tool, telling people details about the program as they answer questions and provide feedback.
“In looking for information, they are also giving information.”
Teliske notes that they had two areas where they wanted to focus their education efforts on. One, telling people what can, and can’t, be recycled. Two, telling people they’re paying for it anyway, as a way of encouraging them to give it a chance.
“We wanted people to know that people were paying for the recycling service regardless if they were using it or not. We wanted them to know that, so if people realized they were already paying for it they would start using it.”
One thing the city is contemplating is making an app to go along with the recycling program, which would feature a reminder so people take their recycling out on the right day, and a guide if they have questions about whether something can actually be recycled.
The survey will be used to guide the development of the program in the future. Some things are unlikely to change, Maloney explains, because it would take away some of the cost advantages that the system has now.
“Some people would like us to go to the cart system, but the cart system would costs us more than we’re doing now. The reason for that is we have a group of people through the Prairie Harvest Employment Program, and there’s a government program that pays the costs... There’s quite a savings for us in them doing that, if we go to a cart system that would eliminate that program.”
One of the advantages for the city is that if more people recycle, the cheaper it is for city residents. While Maloney notes that they might not make a great deal of money on recycled materials, it’s all savings in the long run, because the recycled products don’t go into the landfill. Given new environmental regulations, landfill expansion is increasingly expensive – Yorkton’s new pit cost the city $5.6 million – so they want to be able to use it for as long as possible.
“If we have to build more pits, that adds more costs, and that means your garbage collection is going to cost you more. To save money, recycle.”
Maloney said he personally sees a difference in the amount of garbage from his own home.
“I know for myself, because so much goes into recycling, my garbage barrel is usually less than a third full. It has a real saving on what goes into our landfill.”
This is not the only way that the city is doing to try to divert waste from the landfill. They are also trying to encourage compost and mulching to prevent grass clippings from reaching the landfill, for example, with programs designed to encourage people to do things like mowing their grass differently.
“As time goes along, younger people seem more keen about this, and hopefully will continue to push the fringes a little and move a little faster on it.”
Fill out the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/yorktoncurbsiderecycling before Sept. 15.