Friday, December 31, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #1

Volunteer Efforts

The top Highlight of our year was the tremendous efforts by Volunteers to spread the word on waste issues. We had an increased number of opportunities and initiatives and a record number of hours.

MC/RVs are go-to people for environmental education, representing millions of dollars in saving in 2010.

We have a lot of fun learning and socializing together, too.

Great Job!

Have a safe and wonderful evening - see you next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Employment Opportunity

Employment Opportunity: Just Food Edmonton (JFE) / Personal Community Support Association (PCSA)

Position: Community Garden Network Facilitator, Edmonton region.

Contract position; funded annually; required roughly 1 week per month; potential to increase over time.

Build community capacity to support community gardening; increase opportunities to participate in community gardening through the creation of 6 new gardens in 2011. General Duties:

1. Administer Grant program

2. Secure funding for programming

3. Deliver supports to new garden leaders

4. Provide general program support

Starting Date: February, 2011

Annual contract estimate: $15,000

The Candidate: The successful candidate will be outgoing, and possess the following Qualities and Training:

1. Community development or community building experience

2. Understanding of organizations: public and private

3. Some program experience

4. Growing food experience (not necessarily “horticultural”)

5. Ability to work flexible hours with peak intensities throughout the year

6. Access to a vehicle (a mileage policy is in place).

To Apply: Submit résumé and cover letter to by 4:30 p.m. January 7, 2011. Please note: only the successful candidate will be notified. We thank all applicants for their interest.

See the website for further information:

Highlights of 2010 - #2

Our 20th Anniversary

Over the past 20 years, trained MCRP volunteers have been involved in some unique branch activities.In 1993 they helped with two weekends of the “Great Compost Giveaway” helping distribute over 10,000 tonnes of free compost from the Clear Bag program to Edmonton residents.
The MCRP volunteers helped with the 1994 sale at Clark Stadium of more than 4000 composting bins, and conducted workshops on backyard composting. Volunteers have participated in the opening celebration of various Waste Management Branch facilities.They helped with the paint exchange part of the toxic roundups before the Eco Stations existed. They have taught ESL classes on recycling to newcomers, given presentations in classrooms, and to Girl Guides and Boy Scouts groups.
The volunteers have also helped out with Garbage Fairs – which were turned into Reuse Fairs and Round Ups. Many have become involved with the Reuse Centre.

Volunteers continue to make a positive impact on the community. They help clear up confusion about what to recycle, and help residents get started with composting. Volunteers even share their vermicomposting “red wiggler” worms with others. They assist branch staff by working at information booths and display tables at special events such as the Renovation Show, Women's Show, the Home and Garden Show, Capital Ex, Earth Day celebrations, and many others. Of course, their mentorship of new grads is instrumental to the success of the course, and to the continuation of the program.

Thanks for Twenty Great Years!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #3

TWO Fabulous Open Houses

Great organization
Great Information
Great Fun
Great Sights and Activities
Great Volunteers!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #4

Michael Gets Active

Our beloved mascot Michael Recycle had an active year. During Grey Cup week he could be seen partying in Huddle Town, and even took a swing on the Zipline.
Earlier in the year he took part in the second annual Edmonton Mascot Race during the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, hoping to claim the coveted title of the Canadian Derby Fastest Mascot.
Michael did reach the finals, but he didn't quite make the podium, finishing 4th overall. Better luck next year, buddy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #5

Assisted Waste Collection

Over 80 residents have registered for the service and are, by all indications, extremely pleased with it .
“I thank my stars that this service came to be,” said Lindsay, who signed up for the service in January. “It allows me independence and an easier winter.” She even sent the mayor a letter praising the helpful service, and has mentioned it to everyone ever since the day she signed up.
Lindsay’s appreciation for the service has been echoed by other residents. Bonnie, who lives in an apartment building, thinks it is a great idea. “I mention it to all the people I know who are housebound and alone,” she said. “I just hope they call you and take advantage of this wonderful service.”

Could somebody you know benefit from this service? Send them to for more information and to access the online application form, or call Eric, our waste cartoonist, at 780-496-5698.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #6

20 years of Tree Recycling
This year marked the twentieth year of city-wide natural tree collection, and the popular service shows no sign of slowing down.
Last January’s roundup was a textbook example in teamwork, according to Collections Foreman Doug Fischer. The 10 member crew collecting trees did an excellent job, with a little assistance from their colleagues.
“With the weather warming up, the trucks kept getting stuck in the alleys and back lanes,” he said. “Thankfully, the guys noton tree collection would go out of their way to help free their fellow workers.”
Nearly 15,000 trees will collected for recycling following the holiday season.

According to Jim Lapp, supervisor of compost operations at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, getting rid of sewage waste is an ongoing challenge for cities everywhere.
“Edmonton’s approach has been to treat it as a resource material,” he says. “Once it’s safely processed, it can be used as fertilizer and in other applications.”
Jim points toward a huge pile of wood chips being scooped and turned by an enormous yellow front-end loader. “That's all the Christmas trees we picked up since the holidays,” he yells over the noisy diesel engine. “We mix it 50/50 with the biosolids to help with the composting process.”

A new system known as mass bed composting is being used this winter. It involves piling up huge mounds of material that are left uncovered. This form of composting requires less space, and the size of the piles offers better moisture and heat retention, allowing the bacteria within the piles to decompose the material more efficiently.
“Once a month we use a machine called a mass bed turner to pick up the piles and move them 15 feet,” says Jim. “It aerates and fluffs the piles as it turns, allowing for more even decomposition.”

The compost is sold farmers, landscapers and land developers. It is also used by the City as soil erosion control and as top dressing for parks.
The 2011 tree collection begins January 10.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #7

Reuse Initiatives

The Reuse Centre and all its wonderful events and activities were "the place to be" in 2010!

The Centre continues to grow in scope and influence, with growing amounts coming in, and more happy customers served.

The 2010 Reuse Tree at City Hall's Holiday Magic was upgraded to a very prominent location at the entrance to the City Room, and volunteer attendants were kept busy promoting Reuse between children's choirs.

The Ambleside Eco Station opened their Reuse area and it has been embraced by staff and residents alike.

The sorting room is always an active an fun place to volunteer, and to connect with other volunteers.

Three Cheers for Reuse!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #8

Recycling Initiatives

Shiro Kin loves to carry anything his family sets aside for recycling. The environmentally conscious canine places them in the blue bag for curbside collection.

"He is a dedicated recycler, often sitting in front of us waiting for the milk carton seconds before it is empty," says his owner.

Greys Paper won't mind a bit of doggy drool on this paper when they recycle it in their new closed-loop recycling facility - under the big domes at EWMC.

Volunteers have been working in their own communities to improve use of Multifamily Blue Bins. The bins are quiet now, and with proper use they won't be singing the blues in 2011.

Keep Recycling over the Holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #9

Cool Communications

In April we replaced our static newsletter with an interactive blog and other social media tools. Now we can speed up our delivery of Branch updates to you, and we can share the cool information and sites you pass on to us.

Hope you are enjoying it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Highlights of 2010 - #10

To wind down the year, we present our very own top ten list.
Number Ten brings back memories of warmer days...

EWMC staff are continuing to grow vegetables at the Centre's community garden.

This year, all staff from the branch were given the opportunity to either help with the "Plant A Row-Grow A Row Program" or start their own garden. Everyone involved agreed to continue to plant for the Food Bank, as it would provide them with an opportunity to exercise and to learn more about gardening.

Three EWMC staff volunteered to tend the garden every day, and a number of others donated money and seeds towards the effort.

Karen Lewis-Caron and MCRP volunteers assisted with some of the planting. Arch Greenhouses made a donation of plants. Youth volunteers from Alberta Health Services' Residential and Detox Program dropped by for an hour and half once a week to lend a hand with whatever needed doing.

The EWMC landscaping staff did a wonderful job with woodchips around the perimeter of the garden, making the scarecrows, and delivering potatoes to the Food Bank. Young members of our EWMC Staff families helped by hand painting the rocks that were used to label the various rows of vegetables.

At the end of the harvest, a total of 789 kilos were delivered to the appreciative folks at the Food Bank! A great effort by all involved.

Volunteers dug up a crazy looking potato and called it Bud the Twisted Spud.

When Bud found it on his desk he appreciated the joke. No word as yet to the appearence of Pam the Yam, or Laila and Larysa, the lettuce ladies who, in their bright green frocks, steal the attention wherever they go.

thanks to Pam L for the update and for heading up this initiative

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Time Wasting

Looking for a way to waste a few hours? Head to the bathroom, put the toilet paper into the bowl and flush! You can then use the roll to make cool, reuse wall art.

Paint the tubes before you cut them up for summer or autumn themes, or leave that last bit of paper hanging on for a winter effect.

You can find this and other Reuse Ideas at design*sponge.

Other great ways to stay warm on this first winter day:

Transforming Edmonton is always interesting, with topics across the civic spectrum.

Edmonton Stories puts you in touch with your neighbours and our shared experiences.

City Interactive is a very cool trip down memory lane, or just have a laugh at the old hairstyles from the early days of our local television stations.

On the Blog -

For the remainder of the year, we bring you the Top Ten of 2010 - some highlights from the Waste Branch.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Art by Eric

Eric Czajka, our Assisted Waste Collection agent in the Customer Support Centre, has a great sense of humour and keeps us all laughing. He can often be found doodling away at his desk, bringing issues of the day to life.

Here is a seasonal cartoon from his "Collector Safety" series:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Ghosts of Xmas Past

A few years back I unwrapped a nice set of Martha Stewart plates and was impressed by both the style and also the large amount of styrofoam used in the packaging.

On the next business day, I sent an email to Martha saying I liked the plates but thought she could do better with the box, and suggested a switch to low-grade paper instead of foamed plastic.

She didn't respond, but then, she's a busy lady.

It only took one mention to the manager of my local corner store and the foamed plastic egg cartons were replace with paper the following week. It took a few mentions to my local grocery store, and now, Wow! -no foamed pastic egg trays. I feel I can take some of the credit for less styro waste going to landfill today.

Lately, I have heard from a few Master Recyclers about plastic recycling technology as mentioned in last week's Journal and in this youTube video. (thanks to Heather, Alex, and Cathie for passing them on)

So, here is my take on this new technology:

Plastics come in many forms. Also, plastics pre 1980s are a real hodge-podge of chemicals and processes. If someone were to recycle plastics in their home or office, many of the toxins trapped in the plastics would be released to the environment. Also, wherever that oil was then burned as a fuel source toxins would enter the environment. The controls on this system appear few.

Also, recycling on such a small scale does not recover nearly the energy represented by those plastics. An industrial scale recycler would be far more efficient, even taking transportation into account.

The City of Edmonton is moving in this direction, but will recycle ALL residuals into ethanol. However, we will recycle and reuse FIRST. (see this post for more)

I am excited by this new technology, because it represents the move to home-based recycling. By that I mean, in the 50s a computer filled 4 rooms, the 70s saw the move to home based computers, and today we carry 1000 times the power in our pocket - imagine the cool recycing toys of the future.

Until the technology is developed further, it is best to leave this type of thing to the engineers and always ensure responsible recycling that will not release toxic nanoparticles to the environment.

Now, I'm off to roast marshmallows over some burning, pressure-treated off-cuts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grey's Update

· Both domes are completed and the office building joining the two domes is currently under construction.
· Equipment has been ordered for both domes. The small dome, where waste glass will be used in the manufacture of paving stones, will be commissioned by end of 2010.
· The paper recycling facility will be commissioned starting in January 2011, with custom products (e.g. file folders ) followed by a wider range of products by end of summer (e.g. office paper, writing paper, envelopes).

Collection of Material
· Bins have been installed at 14 recycling depots and Eco Stations for textiles. These bins provide a recycling option for residents who have old clothing and linens that are not reusable and formerly could only be disposed of in the garbage. Not all depots have the clothing bins because of site size limitations. Greys will receive and sort the material to remove items such as old clothing, linens, towels, etc. containing over 75% cotton for use in the paper making process. The left over clothing and textiles will be given to chartable organizations such as Goodwill and the Bissell Centre for reuse or remarketing in the Edmonton market.
· We will begin segregated collection of used office paper from civic offices in the New Year. Commercial businesses that sign up for either a waste or recycling service can also receive high grade paper collection at no charge if they separate into a recycling cart.
· We have just started a joint initiative with Greys for collection of glass and used paper from commercial businesses.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking for 3R Artists...

Do you know any local artists producing quality work with Reuse materials?

Chenille bedspread, metal staples, drywall, plywood, paint 96 x 104 x 2 inches.

Are your sculptor or photographer friends creating work with 3R or waste related themes?

Danish artists Leinchen & Jon Micke
‘Mass consumption really stands out in accumulated urban forms, when interior are dropped as exterior garbage and collides with the tableau of purchasable commodities"

The Branch is wanting to invest in art for our reception area and boardroom and I want to pass on your suggestions.

Installation view from P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Clothing, fabric, found objects, acrylic, collage & binding. Approx 8′ h x 11′ w x 8′ d, (500-600 lbs)
Please let us know what you would like to see in our offices. You can even suggest something of your own!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Magic

City Hall Does Christmas Up in Style!

I've just been to City Hall to get our volunteers settled in at their station by our Reuse Tree while the school choirs come and serenade everyone from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m. each day.

We're giving everyone who visits us there some blue bags and our Waste Branch web address: so they can check under "Publications" for the two instruction booklets for the Reuse Tree ornaments.

Later this week on that website, people will be able to check out some environmentally friendly Christmas suggestions.

If any of you have any suggestions or examples about how you make your holiday more "environmentally friendly", please think about sharing them with us.

Thanks! Karen, Mark, and Cecilia

Recycled holiday

Hey Folks,

Sometimes it is easy to forget about the "Master Recycler" part of our volunteer status. This is the best time of year to put on that hat and remind your friends and family about the importance of recycling used wrapping and packaging after the exchanging of gifts. Some special notes about items that are and are not recyclable:

Are recyclable:
  • Wrapping paper
  • Box board
  • Cards
  • Plastic packaging
  • Cellophane wrapping
  • Tissue paper
Are not recyclable:
  • Foil wrapping paper
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Used paper plates
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Wax coated paper cups
  • Wax paper
Many of these non-recyclable items are compostable or may be diverted at the Integrated Processing and Transfer Facility to be used as fuel for the future Waste to Biofuels Facility. So make sure you have both garbage and recycle bags at your Holiday festivities.

For a fun, packaging free holiday, consider giving the gift of an activity --like a tour for your whole family (10 people minimum) of the Edmonton Waste Management Centre and Materials Recovery Facility. Here is a video to get you inspired for recycling this holiday:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shop til you Drop!

Have you heard? It's time to BUY!

The TV says you Want it!

The Radio says to Give it!

The Newspaper says it will help the economy!

Maybe you can plug this little tune into your brain before heading off to shop...

because the Earth is saying HEY! I just can't handle this anymore!!!

thanks to Suzy L for suggesting this, and best wishes to Suzy and Kevin on their engagement!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vermicompost, a Living Soil Amendment

If you saw the November 19th facebook post you may still be wondering...

Whatcha gonna do with all that poo?

Here is a cool youTube video that if full of information to share...

Have you notices that there is now a link in the right column that will take you to all the branch videos on youTube? Check 'em out!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Story of Electronics (2010)

The latest in the Story Of series: one MC/R says "Makes me even prouder of GEEP and the city’s other waste initiatives..."

thanks to Maria for sending this in.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reusing Old Hotel Façade is "A Labour of Love"

Somewhere at the bottom of our landfill rest the giant columns of the old Edmonton Court House façade. Meanwhile, downtown, another old façade is being prepared for reuse.

The Alberta Hotel came down in the 80's to make way for Canada Place, and Gene Dub is building a new hotel using pieces of the original. The site is just west of its original location on 98 St and Jasper Ave.

Read the Journal and Gazette for the full story.

Too bad we didn't have a Reuse Centre back in the 70's, so more of the old buildings could have been dropped off for reuse. I imagine Renée would direct them to Fort Edmonton Park (as long as weren't dropped off before opening, then Karen would have to load it in and weigh it, etc.). Still, you never know what you will find in the Odds 'N Ends section.

thanks to Craig S-A for passing this on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Incineration and Gassification

With all the talk in the media about Waste To Energy, I think it is important we know the differences between Edmonton's system and what is being proposed elsewhere.

This is the best video I could find to highlight concerns around W2E - unfortunately the last minutes are lost. There is a lot more information out there if you want to explore.

So, I hope that while you were watching that video you picked up on the main difference between London and Edmonton - we have addressed Recycling (Blue Box, then Blue Bags and Depots, then MF Blue Bins), Reduce (MC/R Program and home Composting), and now Reuse (Garbage Fairs, Reuse Centre, etc.) FIRST!

Edmontonians have grown into a system where W2E is a logical end to material that gets past our 3R based waste system. Hopefully, in time we will stop producing materials that are not completely recyclable (but that is another issue).

Aside from that, I still have a few things to learn about our new facility. I believe that high temperatures without the addition of oxygen for combustion results in a cleaner process. Folks down wind can rest assured that we have a top-of-the-line facility planned, and it is NOT an incinerator.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Greener Horizons Seminar

Bullfrog Power and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce invite you to an exciting conversation Wednesday November 24th on ‘Best Practices in Developing and Implementing Corporate Sustainability Plans’.

The panel discussion and networking will take place from 10:30AM – 1:00PM in Conference Rooms AB – 6th Floor at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and includes light lunch and refreshments.

Theresa Howland, VP Western Region, Bullfrog Power

Vivian Manasc – Principal, Manasc Isaac Architects
Ross McEwan – Managing Director, ION Print Solutions
Lorne Lopatka – Manager of Operations and Sustainability, NorQuest College
Laura Franceschini – Sustainability Consultant, Stantec

If you would like to join us, please note that you have until Monday, November 22 to RSVP.
Event is complimentary

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cool Compost Demonstration Garden.

Take a tour of Vancouver's Cityfarm. I got to visit this site last autumn and was in awe of all they do there, and has left me open to all kinds of projects that volunteer teams want to dream up. Got any ideas?

thanks to Anna V for passing this on.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Your Friday Smile

Check out the Riverbanks Zoo's ComPOOst webpage for a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign about their Zoo Poo.

Click the white daisy to learn about the animals, and the orange calendula for a video of how they doo it.

Fun for the whole family!


Does Garbage + Compost = Highway??
Are we ready for Solar Highways?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Want to ban SUDs (single use disposables)?

I was at MacArthur Elementry school Tuesday and saw this sign in the Grade 4 classroom:

of course, I was thrilled, but wondered if the parents were happy having their convenience curtailed in this way. When I left the school at recess to get some supplies from my car I spoke to a woman in her SUV outside about idling and she told me it was to keep her infant warm. Fair enough, except when I left the school more than a half hour later she was still sitting there.

MacArthur needs a few of these:

In today's Journal, Rob Renner is floating a trial balloon to see how people respond to action on disposable coffee cups. Read the article and share your thoughts.

I have already sent in my request for a deposit on large items, like couches, chairs, and especially mattresses.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Life for Old Threads

It’s the pair of jeans you’ve worn until holes started appearing, or the stained tablecloth that has seen too many Thanksgivings. The City of Edmonton is now collecting non-reusable textiles for recycling, but NOT IN THE BLUE BAG! Read on...
Edmontonians can now bring their clean, used clothing and fabric, such as tablecloths, linens and towels, to select Recycling Depots. From there, the material will go to the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, where Greys Paper Recycling Industries will use it to make paper.
Greys will sort the material and keep the items made mostly from cotton for its paper manufacturing. Other items will be provided to local charities.
For a list of City Recycling Depots accepting used clothing and fabric, please visit the depot page or call 311.
For a list of charities who accept reusable textiles visit the reuse directory.

Waste 101

Following an election, new councillors are provided with overviews from each department - a way to make them familiar with complex issues.

What struck me about the Waste Branch Overview was this comment: "Over the past 20 years, an integrated and sustainable waste management system has been developed. This helped us to extend the life of our low cost Clover Bar Landfill by 10 years to 2009. "

Keeping cost low by devastating the envrionment is no longer an option. Citizen's are becoming waste saavy and are demanding more responsible waste handling; this is demonstrated by resident's high participation in recycling initiatives.

Here are two points from the Overview to keep in mind if asked about 2011 Budget issues:

Edmonton’s waste system is undergoing a major transformation. In 2009 the City-owned Clover Bar landfill closed. We’re now making a fundamental shift, completing facilities that will process more waste into marketable products and thereby reducing the amount of waste to be hauled to our long term landfill solution in Ryley.

Our need for a rate increase in 2011 is due to this major shift which will be completed in the next two years. We expect our rate increases will stabilize once this transition is completed and we are diverting 90% of residential waste from landfill.

Remember, we have to open our fist to pat ourselves on the back.