Volunteers collect and sort &#39b;ottles;, cans to help pay for 'worthy; causes around Iqaluit

Recycling program fuels fundraising efforts


Iqaluit's compost vigilantes are helping to collect recyclables.

The Bill MacKenzie Humanitarian Society, which already hauls buckets of compost from the homes of its members, now collects bottles and cans.

These recyclables are cashed in for five cents a piece at a depot at the end of Federal Road.

As Jim Little, a member of the society, and a city councillor, explained, a lot of people won't bother to drive out to the depot to cash in $4 or $5 worth of containers.

But at a recent city council meeting, he said they're willing to donate them.

"The city is just looking for something good to do with those cans," Little said.

In the new year, the society plans to set up a drop-off bin in front of Northmart to collect empty pop and juice containers from everyone.

The society plans to share the proceeds from these recyclables with the fundraising committee working to rebuild St. June's cathedral.

The City of Iqaluit once had a recycling program, but after the program was scrapped due to cost overruns in 2004, everything collected by it ended up in Iqaluit's rapidly-filling dump.

Several seacans remain from the program, marked for cardboard, bottles and cans. One is near the old Butler building and the other is along the road to Apex.

Residents still fill these with recyclables. And, since the Government of Nunavut stepped in with its own recycling program in August, volunteers are now cashing these recyclables in.

This fall, half a dozen volunteers from the St. Jude's committee waded through these seacans and dug out hundreds of dollars in bottles and cans.

Separating bottles and cans from the garbage was dirty, yet lucrative, work, said volunteer Mary Ellen Thomas.

"It was not a job you want to do with your best clothes on," she said.

Iqaluit's recycling depot, contracted by the GN, is the South East Nunavut Company, owned by Bryan Hellwig. He said each year his company amasses roughly 30,000 pounds of baled recyclables – enough to fill four seacans.

At the depot, the recyclables are shredded, baled and packed in seacans to be shipped to a southern recycling plant.

His facility gets most its bottles and cans from Iqaluit's bars. Hellwig said his company processes 70,000 to 75,000 bottles and cans each month.

Most of that is beer, wine and liquor containers. Containers from the Legion and Storehouse account for about 80 per cent of the total, Hellwig estimated.

That's nearly double the 40,000 containers netted by Iqalummiut in the first three months of the GN's current recycling pilot project.

"It's been a bit slow since it's been announced… we're going to extend it to the end of March," Hellwig said. "This past weekend was actually much busier: there were people coming down with large amounts of stuff."

Unlike non-alcoholic bottles and cans, there's been a ten-cent return on booze containers for years, compared to a nickel for the pop and juice containers collected by the pilot project. Hellwig takes both.

It's still unclear whether the GN plans to help pay for the cost of shipping recyclables south. That cost is a big reason why the city's recycling program died in the first place.

The GN also hasn't decided yet whether it will extend the pilot project past next March, or if it will expand the program outside of Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet.

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