Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How this MCR Won It All at the Movies by MCR Melissa B.

I pride myself on retaining and recalling facts and information quickly and accurately. This pride was put to the test recently in the most interesting way that involved Trolls, my daughter, and a phone app.

Back in November, my daughter and I decided to go see the fluffy kids film Trolls. We bused to an appointment on 23rd Avenue and then walked to the Cineplex Odeon South Edmonton Cinemas. After arriving and buying tickets and snacks, we settled in for a relaxing mom/daughter date night.

I like to play TimePlay, which tests those recall skills I had been so proud of, particularly when it involves something I am knowledgeable movies. If you're not familiar with TimePlay, it's a game where you use your cell phone to answer skill testing trivia and do fine dexterity challenges to win Scene Points. These points will get you free movies and other swag.

I loaded the app and got ready to play.

The first few questions were pretty standard ones, such as ranking movies in order of release date or selecting the movies which had Justin Timberlake in them. 

I was feeling pretty confident in my knowledge and answered these questions easily.

Then came the next challenge. A question popped up on the screen that read, “Where does shredded paper belong?” 

I panicked! 

The options were, compost, garbage, recycling and some other fourth thing. I was second guessing myself, thinking this was a trick question but then I realized it was being timed and so I chose garbage. I looked at my daughter and she could see the panic on my face. She said (in her teenager voice), “Mom, you know this stuff, don’t you?” 

I must admit that being put on the spot had me wondering. The next few questions were also about waste, and luckily for me I got them all right and ended up winning the top spot in the theater. Granted, I was playing against a bunch of 8-year-olds and their parents. Still, I felt accomplished! I didn’t get much of a reward but I am 50 points closer to a free movie.

After the game was done, an ad came up for the City's new WasteWise app. I knew then that perhaps a refresher might be in order, and I signed up for the Recycling Refresher at the Reuse Center later in November.

The moral of the story: keep your skills and knowledge sharp because you may need to recall them in the strangest of settings!

All photos provided by Melissa
MCR Melissa B. completed her training in 2014. She is passionate about reusing and upcycling, and she has Christmas ornaments made from bottle caps and corks hanging on her tree.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Create Memories Not Waste

The City of Edmonton encourages you to reduce your holiday waste this season. It may be a time of celebration with elaborate meals, gift exchanges and festive decorations But there are still ways you can cut down on holiday waste  and help the City achieve its goal of diverting 90 per cent of residential waste from landfill.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your holiday waste:
  • Provide memory-making experiences as gifts, like tickets
    to a concert or sporting event, or a family outing to a City attraction.
  • Give gift certificates for your special skills such as haircuts, child minding or household repairs.
  • Rethink the way you package your presents: consider using scarves, festive flyers or cookie tins. Reuse wrapping materials and decorations from last season.
  • Avoid food waste: plan your food in advance, freeze left-overs and donate unopened treats to the food bank.
  • After the holidays make sure you recycle boxes, paper (including all non-foil gift wrap), plastic and glass containers, cans and aluminum trays.
  • Keep gift bags, tissues and bows to reuse next year, or donate them the City’s Reuse Centre.
  • Make sure to drop off your old electronics at the Eco Station and donate that festive sweater to charity.
Edmonton’s household waste doubles for the two weeks following December 25. Help reduce waste this holiday season by thinking of innovative ideas and sharing them on social media using the hashtag #wastelessholidays.

Visit for more information.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Showcasing the Newest Collection Trucks

With so many cities moving toward automated collection, it's become hard to purchase collection trucks that are easy and safe to operate for hand collectors. So, collectors are excited to show off the newest trucks in Edmonton's collection fleet.

Two collectors watching a demonstration of a new collection vehicle.
Collectors place garbage in the yellow bucket, and then use an automated arm to lift and dump the garbage into the truck's compactor compartment. The low height of the bucket is better for the repetitive lifting and throwing that our collectors do, and is expected to reduce the strain on collectors.

The driver operates the arm from within the cab of the truck.
The new trucks are shorter than our current vehicles, making them easier to maneuver in alleys, parking lots, and other tight spaces, but they still carry the same volume of waste. Multiple cameras will help the driver see more and stay safe. The driver also sits higher, which improves visibility. 

In addition to being better for collectors, these trucks would provide a smooth transition to automated collection if that occurs in the future. The bucket can be easily switched out for the proper attachment to pick up bins. 

Collectors are currently training on one of these trucks, with 13 more on order.

Old vs. New
  • These automated trucks are about one metre shorter than the manual collection trucks, so they can be used in narrower spaces.
  • The new trucks have five cameras for safety, rather than the single rear-view camera on the current trucks.
  • The new trucks cost a little more than the current manual collection trucks. But, the new trucks offer more versatility, enhanced safety features, and speedier waste collection.
Photographs provided by the City of Edmonton


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Alley to Front Door: Recycling Message Hits Home

Talking to Laura Henderson and Myles Curry about their work for the City of Edmonton’s Waste Management Branch is a combination of fascination and pride – fascination at their brilliance, and their pride in their work.
The social marketing coordinators have one goal, and that’s to help residents take full advantage of programs provided by Waste Management Services. Working together with the people of Edmonton, they want to help achieve 90 per cent diversion of our residential waste stream.
And just one of the ways they do that starts out early weekday mornings in the city’s back alleys.

[Note: First published in September, 2015. The program wrapped up for the November/December season, just this week. It will start again in early January.]
With big smiles on their faces, they explain.
“Thirty per cent of our residential waste stream is generated by just 10 per cent of people, so our back alley social marketing plan starts by identifying who’s putting out unusually large amounts of garbage,” says Laura.
“We’ve established a benchmark of how many ‘garbage bag equivalents’ is a normal amount to set out. Then we send staff into back alleys on pickup days, in advance of the collection trucks.
“These staff use GIS-equipped computer tablets to record addresses where the norm is being exceeded, and that data flows right back to us.”
The next step, says Myles, comes later in the day, between 4 pm and 8 pm, when employees who have been specially trained to engage citizens in recycling-oriented conversations knock on the front doors at the identified addresses.
They understand that various situations can cause households to set out more than usual. Their first question is always “was today’s garbage bag count normal for you?” That enables them to tailor the conversation for householders whose large volume of waste was out of the ordinary, such as after hosting a big party, or cleaning out a basement.
“If the resident says it was a normal count, we carefully engage them in a conversation about recycling. Some people simply need a small nudge to get started,” says Myles.
“We once encountered a couple who’d lived in the city for 30 years; they were absolutely amazed, and thrilled, that there was a recycling program.”
“Some of the 10 per cent are newcomers either to the country or the city, and some of them just aren’t aware yet of what can be recycled, so they just don’t,” he says. Over 90 per cent of Edmontonians already participate in the City’s recycling programs.
GIS software in the field allows for a seamless transition between morning identification and evening canvassing. Canvass staff can easily access the location of the households, plan their routes between households, and record information about their conversations. This software is essential to tracking the program’s impact and building in continuous improvement.
To date, the program has run for five months and the team has had conversations with more than 2,500 households.
According to the team, the success rate at front doors is phenomenal. Most people are grateful for the gift of a few free blue bags and are eager to start recycling. Later follow-up alley counts show an increase in recycling at households who had conversations with the team.
The program is delivered during periods when yard waste is not a factor, between January and April and from Halloween to December to reach households who are more likely to set out large volumes year-round.
Laura and Myles say they are not aware of any other city that has combined the use of morning inspections, tablets with GIS software, and evening canvassing to change the waste behavior of residents.
But it’s a dead cinch that they’ll continue their research and their efforts to help the City reach that 90 per cent target.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wasteless Holidays in Edmonton

Did you know that the Edmonton Waste Management Centre sees a huge spike in waste around the holiday season? Encourage friends and family to reduce, reuse and recycle this season, and help us give Edmonton a wasteless holiday!

Wasteless gifts
  • Give experiences and share memories! Gift concert tickets, plan an outing, or take a friend for a nice dinner.
  • Donate your time and energy to a special someone's favourite charity, or make a donation in their name.
  • Gift consumables you know will be used or eaten. Look for products with minimal packaging.
  • Have a re-gift exchange, where everyone brings an nice item that they no longer use instead of purchasing new.
Wrap gifts in fabric, and use old cards to make gift tags.

Reused wrapping
  • Wrap gifts in reusable materials like fabric, and save them for use next year.
  • Make the wrapping part of the gift! Use a pretty shawl, handkerchief, scarf or a tea towel instead of wrapping paper.
  • Use newsprint, magazine pages, or flyers to wrap gifts.
  • Reuse paper gift bags from gifts you've gotten.
  • Make gift tags out of old holiday cards.

Get creative with your holiday decorating!

  • Get creative, and decorate with reused items.
  • Donate unwanted holiday items, and shop second hand for new-to-you decorations! Visit the Reuse Centre and bring home up to 50 kg of holiday items for just $5, including gift wrap, decorations, and even artificial Christmas trees!
Food waste
  • Send party guests home with leftovers, so you don't end up with a fridge full! Keep containers or bags on hand for quick and easy packaging.
  • Keep a list of post-holiday recipes that will help you use up leftovers. 
  • Donate unopened goodies to a food bank.
  • Portion leftovers into small containers and freeze them for later use. Chop up meats and veggies before freezing so you can toss them directly into soups, casseroles, and other recipes.
Visit for more inspiration.

Share your holiday waste reduction ideas using the hashtag #wastelessholidays on social media.

Photos provided by the City of Edmonton Reuse Centre

Monday, December 5, 2016

Thank You, City of Edmonton Volunteers

The following is republished from Transforming Edmonton:

Have you ever wondered how events at the Edmonton Valley Zoo and programs at your favourite attractions facility go off without a hitch? How does litter disappear from neighbourhoods? Or how did your neighbour learn to compost?

Wonder no more because thousands of volunteers with the City of Edmonton make it happen. Volunteers make Edmonton a vibrant and sustainable place to live and grow!

December 5 is International Volunteer Day. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers for the time and effort you have contributed to the City of Edmonton. Our programs and services would not be the same without your support and dedication. In their honour, the High Level Bridge was lit last night to show appreciation.  

The City of Edmonton owes the success of many programs and events to over 14,000 registered volunteers, contributing more than 215,000 hours each year. Volunteers can get involved in planting trees, picking up litter, working various jobs at special events, educating citizens on waste reduction, sitting on a board or committee and much more. Volunteers play an important role in the following City programs and services:

Volunteers come from all walks of life. They were born-and-raised in Edmonton or are new to the city. They are young or old or in between. They are individuals, families or groups. They are diverse in faith, background, education and experience. Cathy Backewich, a long standing Capital City Clean Up volunteer, says, “Volunteering gives me purpose and ownership in my community and city as a whole. Volunteering also provides an opportunity for people to use abilities that they may not know they have and to gain experience in things they’ve have never been involved with before.”

Volunteers of all ages selflessly give their time supporting programs, events and activities that they hold close to their hearts. "Over the years, we have witnessed the magic of volunteerism; the dedication and the pride that each and every volunteer brings,” says Susan Kankkunen, Corporate Volunteer Resource Coordinator.

“Excited volunteers are calling us up before the snow is even melted to get their supplies to head out into their communities and the River Valley to pick up litter! Their dedication truly make me proud of the amazing citizens who volunteer for the City of Edmonton,” says Tamara Brunelle, Capital City Clean Up Volunteer Coordinator.

“Master Composter Recyclers make a big difference for Edmonton’s waste system,” comments Sarah Snider with the Master Composter Recycler Program. “Our volunteers make a real impact on what their friends and neighbours do with their waste. They are champions of waste reduction and local sustainability.”

Vanessa Ostapchuk with the Reuse Centre adds, “The Reuse Centre offers some really wonderful volunteer experiences. Some of our volunteers gain skills with independent living and fundamental work experience. Meanwhile, we engage groups, corporations, and individuals that are incredibly creative.”
Laura Nichol, the Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Fort Edmonton
Park depends on more than a 1000 volunteers annually to bring this history to life. “With volunteers from a few weeks old to nearly 100 years, from all backgrounds and cultures, we take pride in sharing Edmonton's diverse stories together.”

Katelynne Webb from the Roots for Trees Program says, “Through the hard work of dedicated volunteers in 2016, Edmonton now has over 39,000 new trees and shrubs. They help to make our city a more beautiful and green place to live and play!”.  

“Volunteering is really at the heart of living in Edmonton.They are a crucial link between civic governance and community engagement,” says Vickie Gunderson, Manager of Civic Agency Governance. “That’s where ‘citizens-at-large’ can play key roles on the City’s Agencies, Boards, and Committees.”

Lawrence Jansen, Volunteer Coordination with the Edmonton Police Service notes, “The impact of our volunteers is immeasurable when citizens have been affected by crime or other serious incidents. We couldn’t provide the level of service required without our volunteers who are there to assist, whether it’s taking an accident report at a community station or providing support to victims who have been affected by a traumatic event.”

Catherine Falk, Community Greening Coordinator, notes that there are also many opportunities for people to showcase their pride in the Edmonton or gain practical experience in an area they are passionate about. In fact, she says, “Volunteers have an enormous impact on numerous community programs to the point that they are truly the owners and directors of the program growth.”

Get involved today, we’d love to have you!  Visit to learn about the exciting opportunities that await you!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Are You Satisfied with the City's Waste Services?

Results of Fall 2016 Survey

If so, you’re in good company! Every year the City conducts a survey to determine how satisfied residents are with their waste services and how much they participate in waste programs. We do this to measure key performance indicators, such as recycling participation and the level of satisfaction with specific services. We use this information to identity areas for improvement, to figure out where our advertising dollars need to go to raise awareness for our services and facilities, and to continue to help residents properly sort their waste.
This year’s fall survey showed strong results in both the customer experience and participation in sustainable waste activities. Edmontonians really do care about their environment and the impacts their waste can have, and we love hearing from you!
Overall, residents are pleased with the services we provide! Of the residents surveyed, 93 percent of single family homeowners said they were satisfied with their garbage and recycling collection. This statistic is marginally higher than last year’s results. Families living in apartments and condominiums remained steady at 86 per cent satisfaction. Edmontonians continue to show their dedication to diverting waste from landfill with participation in the City’s voluntary blue bag recycling remaining high at 91 per cent.
Eco Stations play an important role in the proper handling of household hazardous waste. The number of residents who took items to an Eco Station (in the last year) also remains consistent at 63 per cent; however, the number of visits per resident is up this year by 0.6 per cent. Of the residents who have visited an Eco Station in the last 12 months, 93 per cent reported being satisfied with their experience.
What’s better than reusing waste or recycling? Reducing! That’s why we’re excited about the increase to 66 per cent for awareness of the Reuse Centre, up from 49 per cent in 2012. In addition to being a drop-off facility, the Reuse Centre provides unique items for organizations and individuals to pick up. For just $5, people can take up to 5 kg of product! The Reuse Centre also offers ongoing programs such as crafting workshops, and offers space rental at affordable prices for meetings and children’s birthday parties, so be sure to check it out!
Another proud achievement for Edmonton is the increase in the City’s grasscycling program – Go Bagless. Of Edmontonians who have a lawn to mow, 63 per cent reported leaving their grass clippings on the lawn all or most of the time in 2016, which increased from 58 per cent in 2015. This program, which has been running for several years, is an excellent example of social marketing and the positive impacts it can have for our city and its environment.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated! Survey engagement was high this year with 801 Edmontonians participating in online interviews. The survey targeted Edmonton residents 18 years or older, who are the primary decision makers of their household, between October 6 and 20, 2016.
“These survey results show that there’s a lot of community support for waste programs and that residents continue to be active participants in waste reduction, reuse and recycling, fully supporting our goal to divert waste from landfill,” says Connie Boyce, Director of Community Relations with Utility Services. “These results help us measure the impact of our programs and prioritize our efforts to continue improving customer service.”
For more information on programs and services, visit Lastly, a big thank you to all Edmontonians who reduce, reuse, recycle and/or simply take the time to set out their waste correctly — your efforts make this city safer and cleaner!