Western Nunavut hub embraces municipal recycling program
Cambridge Bay to start curbside recycling Oct. 5
CAMBRIDGE BAY — Cambridge Bay is going where no other Nunavut community has been able to go before — towards a successful municipal recycling program.
By demonstrating what can and can’t be recycled and how to fill blue plastic recycling bags, Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak and SAO Stephen King showed people attending a Sept. 30 public meeting the how-to of recycling, set to roll out in Cambridge Bay Oct. 5.
Waste management is the way of the future, they said, so you can forget about other new large-scale municipal infrastructure projects for the time being.
The Government of Nunavut plans to put its support and federal funding into waste management programs — now the GN’s top infrastructure priority, said Ehaloak, who sits on Nunavut’s infrastructure committee.
But recycling comes to this western Nunavut town with a checkered history.
In 2005, the City of Iqaluit pulled the plug on the eastern Arctic’s only door-to-door recycling program, and replaced it with a new voluntary system, a move aimed at saving the city tens of thousands of dollars a year.
During the four-year program in Iqaluit, there was also confusion among members of the public about which materials could be recycled, which couldn’t, and who was responsible for what.
Messages about what could end up in the blue bags and boxes were occasionally contradictory or complicated. Coffee grounds and used condoms were among the non-recyclable items ending up in bags destined for the city’s recycling program
But Cambridge Bay, with a population of 2,000 — less than a third that of Iqaluit — hopes to become the first Nunavut municipality to start and maintain a curbside recycling program.
Its goal: to reduce waste in the hamlet’s revamped landfill and avoid the kinds of overloads and uncontrolled dump fires seen recently in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet.
Due to be launched this past April, the recycling start-up date in Cambridge Bay was pushed back by six months, mainly to ensure the translation of information about recycling into Inuinnaqtun.
Ehaloak said Sept. 30 that she’s already waited four years to see this program — which was part of her election platform — to become reality.
She said she’s hoping that youth in the community, who have more awareness about recycling, will help their parents and grandparents embrace the new program.
The recycling program, according to Ehaloak and King, was designed for Cambridge Bay, in Cambridge Bay, but it will serve as a model for other Nunavut communities.
The motivation to move ahead with the program: Cambridge Bay needs to comply with the strict conditions of its Nunavut Water Board licence, making it only one of five Nunavut communities which do comply, they said.
For the recycling program, households in Cambridge Bay are to receive the same kinds of garbage bins seen in the South — black ones for non-recyclable trash and blue ones for recyclable items.
And households will be responsible for making sure the bins are accessible to garbage trucks, which will now come around to neighbourhoods on a scheduled weekly plan.
People will also be asked to separate recyclables into two blue plastic bags: one for aluminum cans and the other for plastic beverage containers, other containers and tetra packs.
But they’ll still be able to throw away glass, paper, Styrofoam, egg cartons and other containers. Those will go into regular garbage bags.
The Hamlet also plans to add on a hazardous waste collection program for items including batteries, aerosols and electronics.
Those at the public launch had some questions for Ehaloak and King — such as what will happen if high winds carry the bins away or young kids vandalize them.
King said that if the bins need to be replaced “it will be at the householders’ own expense.”
As to where the recycled materials will go, well, that’s still not nailed down — but the Hamlet would like to see empty sealift barges and vessels head south with baled and stored materials.
To kickstart the recycling program, along with detailed information and bins, people will also receive free blue plastic bags until these are available at local stores.
The program remains voluntary, but higher waste collection fees are not out of the question for those who refuse to recycle, Ehaloak told Nunatsiaq News.
On Sept. 30, to raise awareness about waste management in the community, schools, offices and residents also participated in their last community cleanup of the year.
And everyone will receive information about the new recycling program in their mailboxes this week.
When mayors and SAOs from around Nunavut arrive at the Nunavut Association of Municipalities meeting Oct. 8 to Oct. 10 in Cambridge Bay, they will hear about the recycling program and visit the landfill, renovated a few years ago for $6.5 million.