Your Recycled Material is Going Directly to the Landfill

By- Wayne Lapaire

Director, Turner Valley Rate Payers Board

Neatly sorted and baled material from the back door of the Oilfields Recycling Centre in Turner Valley is being picked up by trucks and taken directly to the Foothills Regional Landfill and Resources Recovery Centre south of Okotoks where it is buried along with your household waste.

In our article “Transparency Accountability and a Ham Sandwich” we noted that there is an expectation that municipal governments should deal openly with citizens and be publicly accountable for their actions.

Wouldn’t you expect your local government to inform you when recycling materials cannot be processed? And to further give notice that you should include the materials in your regular garbage pickup to avoid the special handling costs that occur when they go through the recycling facility? These costs include the personnel and equipment handling cost of baling the materials, the costs of contract trucking the materials to landfill, and the costs of disposal or “tipping fees” paid at the landfill. The handling and baling costs are definitely avoidable, as are some of the trucking costs, since the vehicle that picks up your household refuse every week makes the same trip to the landfill. And let’s not forget the amount of your personal time taken to sort and deliver to the center.

So, wait a minute! How bad is it? Exactly how much material is being recycled, and how much is going to landfill?

We, at the Turner Valley Rate Payers Board (TVRPB), have been trying to get the facts regarding this situation for a couple of months now. Unfortunately, we have been unable to get access to enough information from the Turner Valley administration. After a series of phone calls and emails, that resulted in some sketchy and questionable data, they have told us that any further information will have to be paid for through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request.

We need to point out that this result is not unusual for the Turner Valley administration. In fact, the TVRPB has been forced to resort to FOIP requests a total of 3 times over the last 6 months. Further, even when town employees deliver the information, it is typically of such poor quality that it simply raises more questions. Sometimes it feels like being a dentist for chickens would be more rewarding – it would be easier to pull hen’s teeth than get a solid, complete, and straightforward answer from the town!

To be open and accountable, we would expect the administration to produce meaningful periodic service reports for each service provided. For recycling, this would include a monthly breakdown of the amount of each type of material that is processed through the Oilfields facility. Then, for the amount of each type that goes through the facility, how much is actually recycled into new products, how much is stockpiled for future disposal, and how much is sent to landfill. We would also expect that the revenues and costs for each type of material be included in these reports. This would allow citizens to see, for themselves, what recycling results we get for the recycle fees we pay on our utility bills. What is the fee actually getting us?

Please feel free to contact us for further details. We will gladly, openly, and responsibly share all of the information we have been able to get with any citizen who asks.

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