Less means more, more or less
Commentary by Kevin Laliberte
Environmentally-conscious Albertans will have more opportunities to help reduce their footprint on the environment in 2009, thank to the launch of a new milk container recycling initiative which comes into effect on in June of this year.
The changes, which will see Alberta become the first province in Canada to offer milk container recycling services, gives us the distinction of having one the most comprehensive beverage container recycling program in North America.
Under the updated program, Albertans will be required to pay a deposit on all milk containers beginning in June, including 10 cents for containers one litre in size and under and 25 cents for containers greater than one litre.
The changes to the provinceís beverage container recycling program were unveiled late last year and represent a first in Canada.
The deposit and option to return milk containers to Alberta bottle depots comes into effect June 1, 2009. Until that time milk containers continue to be recycled through various community recycling programs.
Adding milk containers to Albertaís growing list of recyclable products coincides with an announcement by the Government of Alberta last November to increase increases refunds on all containers currently accepted at Alberta bottle depots, including pop, juice, beer (bottles and cans over one litre), wine and spirit containers by five cents as an incentive to recycle.
Itís all part of a provincial goal to achieve an 85 per cent overall recycling rate.
Thatís a projected increase of 10 per cent above the current rate of 75 per cent Ė a targeted goal which the province hopes to achieve by 2010.
And getting there is something each of us Albertans will need to play more of a leading role in to achieve.
That statement is reinforced by statistical data which shows that out of an average of two billion beverage containers sold in Alberta each year, roughly 500 million containers are not returned to a bottle depot for recycling.
Sadly, they ultimately end up being improperly discarded in our landfill systems or simply tossed on the ground by irresponsible individuals with little care or concern for the state of our fragile environment.
And thatís just not good enough.
In 2006 Alberta collected and recycled 1.5 billion beverage containers. This equates to 441 empty containers per Albertan or 384,000 metric tonnes of containers which were diverted from landfills.
From an energy conservation standpoint itís interesting to note that enough energy is saved by recycling one aluminum can to run a television set for three hours or to light one 100 watt bulb for 20 hours.
The reality is that recycling is something which benefits each of us in many ways, regardless of whether itís helping to conserve precious resources, protecting the environment from potentially harmful materials or reducing landfill costs.
Alberta municipalities spent more than $181 million on waste management expenses in 2004 (a portion of which was unnecessary recyclable materials). Just think for a moment what our communities could do with all the money saved by reducing and eliminating unnecessary waste management costs if everyone recycled?
That precious funding could be used to support various valuable community-based programs and services which serve to benefit all residents.
So get with the program people because recycling is one perfect example where less means more, more or less.
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