Recyclables to be sent south on planes

City’s much-anticipated recycling program may begin next month



IQALUIT — The City of Iqaluit is gearing up to launch its new recycling program, but some residents wonder how well it will fly.

City officials hope the recycling program will reduce waste in the city’s landfill, which is expected to be full by Oct. 31.

They also think recycling will help rid Iqaluit’s air of the toxins produced when substances like plastics and metal are burned. No official launch date for the program has been announced, but it is expected to kick off in late October.

Matthew Hough, the director of the city’s engineering and public works department, said the recyclable material will be baled and used as ballast aboard Canadian North flights returning south.

At the Ottawa airport, the bales will be picked up by a sanitation company and brought to its recycling plant. The process will cost the city very little.

“This is how we can actually run this program,” Hough said. “We found while doing the research for the program that storing the material and shipping it out all at once in the summer would have been so cost-prohibitive we wouldn’t have been able to run the program.”

Iqalungmiut already have a place to bring their recyclables. Several sea crates have been sitting along the dump road for two months, serving as temporary repositories for plastics and metal.

Unmarked crates

But almost no one knows what the crates are for. Inside the doors of one of them are piled several bags, some of them broken open and spewing their contents.

Matthew Hough said few people have used the crates as a drop-off for their plastic and metal. That may be because there aren’t signs explaining what the crates are for.

The signs have been ready for some time, Hough said, but staff shortages mean they haven’t yet been hung. A city official said the signs would be up this week.

Marcel Mason, a member of the group Citizens for a Clean Iqaluit, says he brings his plastics and metals to the sea crates but laments that few others do the same.

He said a random survey of Iqalungmiut would reveal that few people even know the crates are there.

“Even if you go by there, if you don’t know what those trailers are for, it’s just a bunch of containers sitting out there. It’s also in a mud hole, which is not good. The whole thing is just not set up to be user-friendly,” he said.

And the location means only those with a vehicle can go to the site.

“Anything is better than nothing,” he admitted. “At least now I have a place where I can take what I know should not be burned.”

Mason said he doesn’t think people will voluntarily start separating their garbage into recyclables and non-recyclables, even after a public education campaign is launched.

“Unless the municipality is willing to back it with legislation, we’re not going to see change,” he warned.

Cheri Kemp-Kinnear, Iqaluit’s economic development officer, said while commercial establishments take part in a paper recycling program, there is no legislation on the books requiring the recycling of anything.

“The recycling program has all kinds of ideas and one of the ideas that is done in Southern jurisdictions is this deterrent, which is you fine people for not doing things,” she said. “There’s no way we can do that at this point. We’re just way too early into the game. We’ve got to get it working first.”

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