I have always been a bit of a recycling nerd. When I was in elementary school the municipal government had a series of industrial recycling boxes located throughout the city. There was one just down the road from our house. I remember taking all the recyclables (newspapers, cans, glass, and possibly plastic) down to the big green bin and dumping them in. The crash that resulted from tossing the glass was particularly satisfying. We may have even fought over that job. Probably.
But my interest in recycling extended beyond the neighbourhood depot. In grade seven we needed to raise money for out outdoor education program and so we did a couple of bottle drives. As we were walking through the streets canvassing for empties I thought what a good idea it would be to get people to sign up for regularly scheduled pick ups. Imagine the money we would make! (Imagine the inconvenience to our parents!)
I probably can’t take credit for our current system of weekly recycling pick-up, but I can at least say that I did think of it before it was implemented. Regardless, it was only a few years later that I got a chance to see the weekly pick-up system in action. My aunt and uncle live in Victoria. I’m not certain of how the recycling program came about (and Google was less then helpful this morning), but I seem to recall that our province’s capital was one of the first municipalities in BC to implement a blue box curbside recycling program. I remember being really impressed, and somewhat jealous. All they had to do was put out their recycling with the trash – we had to lug ours down to the recycling bins! It was a day of rejoicing for all lazy and well-meaning teenagers, myself included, when my hometown introduced their own blue bin program.
For years we have been putting the recycling out with the trash, but this fall we will be adding a little something to the refuse: organic waste materials! This means that any uneaten food, paper that has had food touch it (like pizza boxes), yard trimmings, etc, will all be picked up by a separate truck that – get this – runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and emits 23% less carbon and 90% less air particulates than a regular diesel truck. And on top of it all, the organic waste that these trucks pick up will be used to produce the fuel that makes then run. Based on calculations done from the pilot program, diverting organic waste should reduce a household’s garbage by about 50%.
All of this sounds extremely cool, and I really hope it works as well as they say. If you can’t tell, I am very excited about all of this. I even catch myself mentally sorting the organic waste from the garbage and thinking, “In October this won’t be going to the dump!” Now that’s nerdy.