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It’s time to get the biggest bluebox in the world on site.

November 28th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Riding past a construction site in my neighbourhood, I was at first only casually disheartened to see a giant dumpster full of completely recyclable material sitting on the street. But as I cycled on my way, ruminating on the steps we take to ensure our household recycles efficiently, my mild distaste grew into a snit of righteously indignant proportions.

Why should I risk my fingers rinsing out locally line-caught albacore tuna cans when some steel-toed doofus can mindlessly chuck his big mac wrappers right on top of the perfectly-recyclable cardboard, steel, and wood waste he spent the morning mixing together in a landfill-bound dumpster? How hard would it be to invent a materials separation system that is as easy as chucking it in the bin?

Well, the answer turns out to be, not very difficult at all. If you have Photoshop.

It’s a little more challenging to do in real life, but the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver appear to be taking it on. Under the Zero Waste category of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, a section called Enhance Construction, Renovation & Demolition Recycling tackles this very issue, with a series of proposed projects and legal amendments. A bit more Googling led me to this Metro Vancouver PDF, asking for feedback on mandatory construction and demolition  recycling regulations.

No doubt many trades and developers will be howling like scorched cats at this latest affront to the easiest possible path to profit. But it really has to happen. And when it does, the recycler that can bring the easiest most intuitive system to market should be able to really clean up.

And all us happy home recyclers won’t feel quite as duped.

Tags: Environment · Green Points of View · Sustainable Businesses · Sustainable Lifestyle · Sustainable Products

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Benjamin Nessim // Dec 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Hi Lorne, I am questioning the tone of the second paragraph of the article. Recycling initiatives come from the top. If I didn’t recycle, I would be taking a load to the dump about once a week. As it is, I go 3 or 4 times a year. Why my shop? It’s because the boss (me) believes in recycling and totally sees the value of green capitalism. I save a ton of time and dumping costs while doing my part to protect the environment. Wearing steel toes is a WCB requirement, not a gauge of intelligence or willingness to participate in environmental initiatives. These ‘doofuses’ are just like any other group of employees, whether in construction or finance. Most would happily do better if provided a relatively convenient way to do so. I worry that your wording will alienate, rather than encourage or exhort, that segment of the work force.
    I really like your articles and have subscribed so I don’t miss any. Your green capitalist leaning is a great way to get companies to take a different look at how they do business. I’m impressed with what you have done.
    On a lighter note, us doofuses are wondering why you can afford locally line caught Albacore tuna, but not a decent can opener. There are safer options available.
    Thanks for reading ‘Ben’s rant’ (not nationally televised yet). Hope you all have an awesome Christmas. Yes, Christmas not Xmas, but don’t get me started on that lol.

  • 2 admin // Dec 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, Ben. Of course, you are correct on all counts. Sustainability works best when it is a top-down vision and employees of any collar colour will usually do their part if they have the right opportunity, training and leadership. Kudos to you for making the effort in your shop to do the right thing. My bad for lumping all trades under one steel-toed banner. Regarding the tuna-can-opener, I am too cheap to upgrade – plus then I would have to recycle my old one!

  • 3 Rob Huston // Dec 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Many years in the trades alerted me to extreme construction and renovation waste that occurs daily.
    These type of bins could help, but I bet the Styrofoam will fill up darn fast!

    Many times I wanted to do the right thing ,but could not.

  • 4 Buddy Boyd // Dec 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

    As a steel toed wearing doofus myself, couldn’t help but weigh in. The best way to get blue collar types to recycle at the work place better is if the leadership (or lack there of) in Metro Vancouver implemented source separate recycling at the curb like in North Vancouver. It therefore would be second nature to everyone that keeping the discard stream clean and separated makes good sense. Then as we entered the work place, our good habits roll into creating good habits on the construction sites and our work places. But as long as the over all messaging is mixing everything together and commingling is acceptable, sadly down-cycling is what we will really get. Zero Waste can not work top down. It has to be bottom up. And as the owner of a recycling depot, we have instituted solutions so that Styrofoam never has to go into the waste stream again. Also sadly, Metro Vancouver is pre-disposed to slant everything towards burning garbage in Metro. So most innovative and or creative common sense ideas will fall on deaf ears there and the input link will direct alternatives to WTE into the delete bin I bet. Great article Lorne. Keep up the good work and humour.

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